FILE PHOTO: Men walk past electricity pylons as they return from work in Orlando, Soweto township, South Africa March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Men walk past electricity pylons as they return from work in Orlando, Soweto township, South Africa March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

The South African government on Thursday vowed to take “swift and decisive action” to address the prevailing crisis of energy supply

South Africa has to urgently address the negative impact that power outages are having on the daily lives of the people and the economy, Deputy President David Mabuza said as he convened the inaugural meeting of the Eskom Task Team, formerly known as the Eskom War Room, in Cape Town. The meeting came as electricity utility Eskom resumed a new round of rolling power blackouts earlier in the day. The Eskom Task Team, chaired by Mabuza, was established by President Cyril Ramaphosa to provide political oversight and address the Eskom power generation crisis as well as look at effective implementation mechanisms of the National Emergency Response Plan. The team brings together various strategic role players with the aim of developing a comprehensive approach and coordination of efforts to ensure that the power utility is supported in its implementation of a turnaround plan.

The government views the process of ensuring security of energy supply as one of the critical prerequisites for investment, development and sustained economic growth, Mabuza said. The roadmap presented by Eskom gives an indication that there is now a focused approach to how South Africa responds to this crisis in a much more concrete manner, according to Mabuza.
The Eskom Task Team includes the Ministers of Public Enterprises, Mineral Resources and Energy, Finance, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, State Security, Police, the Presidency and representatives of Eskom. To further strengthen the work of the task, a technical team has been established to provide strategic technical support and expert input to the process. “All relevant stakeholders must work together with speed and be focused on resolving this crisis,” said Mabuza.

South Africa has suffered from power insufficiency for years, particularly in recent months when load shedding has become more common. State-run Eskom, which provides more than 95 percent of electricity consumed in South Africa, said on Thursday that there is a possibility of increased load shedding over the next 18 months as it is conducting critical maintenance to restore the ageing plant to good health. The utility says it implements load shedding as a last resort to prevent the collapse of the national grid.

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