‘We’re not the only country with problems’

President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa is not the only country with power problems, and even affluent countries like the US have issues.

Speaking to the media at an ANC event on Thursday afternoon (28 October), Ramaphosa said that government knows exactly why the country’s energy generation is at a low ebb.

“As I was addressing the crowds here, we are not the only country – even the mighty United States of America, their most affluent state of California, has gone through years of problems of energy generation.”

“We have come up with a grand solution which is in the process of being implemented. We now need to restructure Eskom to allow (independent) power generators to also generate power. It is a weakness to have one company having an absolute monopoly.”

Ramaphosa said that the government’s plan would see multiple energy generators providing power to a transmission company owned by the government.

“The solution is there; we are going to solve this problem. On the way to solving it more permanently, we are going to have hiccups and ups and downs. That is what we will need to live with, and Eskom itself has said that we will live with power shortages and outages for quite a while as they put things right.

“The good thing is that there are generators coming on stream, and we will be announcing another bid window. We have a number of balls in the air, and I am determined that we get it right.”

On Thursday evening, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe announced 25 preferred bidders selected in the fifth round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

Mantashe said that the latest round aims to provide around 2,600MW of additional power to South Africa’s grid. However, he noted that the first of these projects is only likely to come online in around three years times.

Eskom reduced load shedding to stage two on Friday morning, having returned some generation capacity to service over the past 24-hours.

The power utility said that stage two load shedding will be implemented until 05h00 on Saturday.

“Over the past 24 hours, a unit each at the Koeberg, Medupi, Kriel, Kusile and Tutuka power stations have returned to service, helping to ease the current capacity constraints.”

The group said that a unit at Majuba and Arnot power stations tripped, while a single unit at Matla was forced to shut down.

Total breakdowns amount to 14,161MW, while planned maintenance is 5,449MW of capacity, it said.

Read: Load shedding in South Africa is about to get much worse: analyst