New round of power blackouts hits South Africa

A new round of power blackouts hit South Africa on Thursday, plunging large parts of the country into darkness, according to a South African public electricity utility.

“Today we lost three additional generation units and had to use our emergency reserves in order to meet demand throughout the day,” state-run power utility Eskom said in a statement.

The stage 2 rolling blackouts started at 10:00 p.m. local time (2000 GMT) and would last until 05:00 a.m. Friday (0300 GMT), said Eskom, which provides more than 95 percent of the electricity consumed in South Africa.

The blackouts would allow Eskom to shed up to 2,000 megawatts of the national load per day.

“As a result, our emergency reserves are now at critically low levels, and need to be replenished overnight in order to meet tomorrow’s forecasted demand in electricity,” Eskom said.

Eskom has been working to avoid load shedding this week, as the electricity system is severely constrained.

South Africa has suffered from electricity insufficiency for years, while power blackouts have become increasingly frequent these days.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has repeatedly pledged to turn around the debt-ridden utility haunted by poor management and alleged corruption.

The government has forked out billions of rands (1 rand equals 0.068 U.S. dollars) to bail out the cash-strapped utility, but has little effect.

Load shedding costs the country billions of rands a day and trillions over the years.