Picture: Reuters/Mike Hutchings

JOHANNESBURG - Businesses in the Cape region will come together at a special summit next week to develop a response to the country's electricity crisis, the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Tuesday.

State power utility Eskom has struggled to meet demand, partly due to a failure to maintain its ageing plants, and was forced to implement rolling blackouts last month to avoid tripping the entire grid.

The Cape chamber said business had suffered "devastating losses" during the recent period of "extreme load shedding", during which Eskom suppressed as much as 4,000 MW of demand at a given time.

"We can’t leave the problem to Eskom and have no option but to act in the interests of the people of the Western Cape,” Cape Chamber president Geoff Jacobs said. 

“We have convened this summit because we are all in this together and we have to find ways to emerge from the crisis with new hope for energy security and economic growth.”

He said the April 15 summit would be about understanding the range of problems and finding solutions in electricity supply rather than apportioning blame, adding that Eskom officials were welcome to participate.

“The Western Cape has developed a different approach to the long-term problems and has taken the lead in promoting the green economy and renewable energy," said Jacobs, noting that Cape Town was the first city in the country to encourage roof-top solar panels.

- African News Agency (ANA)