South Africa mulls use of disaster rules to ease power crisis

Africa’s most industrialized economy is facing its worst electricity crisis in decades

World 15:18 01.02.2023
South Africa is planning state of disaster management legislation to deal with the ongoing electricity crisis crippling Africa’s most industrialized economy.
 
“There was talk about the declaration of a national disaster like what we did when we faced COVID-19 and there is broad agreement we should move in that direction,” President Cyril Ramaphosa told members of his ruling African National Congress Party (ANC) at a meeting Monday night.
 
He said a disaster declaration would help speed up resolving the rolling power cuts the country is currently facing.
 
“The meeting agreed that energy security is very central to our country’s national interest, sovereignty, and national security,” Ramaphosa said.
 
South Africa is facing its worst electricity crisis in decades, with rolling blackouts of up to six hours a day.
 
Power utility Eskom, which generates over 90% of the country's electricity, has been struggling to meet the demand and implementing different stages of outages for weeks.
 
Most of the output from the utility's aging power plant array is coal-fired, with the facilities in need of maintenance.
 
Ramaphosa said without energy security, South Africa will not be able to achieve its development priorities such as building a transformed, inclusive growing economy and food security, among others.
 
“Work is already underway within government to establish whether the legal requirement for the declaration of a national state of disaster are met and what specific actions would be empowered to undertake to urgently resolve load shedding (power cuts),” he said.
 
Last month, Ramaphosa canceled his visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to deal with the crippling energy crisis in his country.
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