President Cyril Ramaphosa has reassured the public that the government is actively working to mitigate the impact of load shedding on different sectors of society and the economy. Speaking in Parliament, Ramaphosa emphasized that the government’s primary focus is on reducing the severity and frequency of load shedding through various interventions coordinated by the National Energy Crisis Committee.
A Comprehensive Government Response
Responding to an oral question by ANC MP Nokuzola Ndongeni, Ramaphosa highlighted the government’s plans to ensure that load shedding does not adversely derail and/or affect service provision. The president’s response covered the following points:
- Ensuring continuity of basic services, especially for the poor
- Focusing on commuter rail infrastructure, bulk water supply systems, and facilities essential to energy production
- Excluding critical facilities from load shedding, where feasible, without increasing the risk of higher stages of load shedding
Ramaphosa stated, “We will continue to explore ways of preventing the disruption of basic services and reducing the impact of load shedding as we work to achieve energy security.”
A Commitment to Energy Security
To address the impact of load shedding, the government is committed to reducing its severity and frequency. Their approach includes:
- Implementing the Energy Action Plan
- Fixing Eskom’s power stations
- Reducing demand
- Adding new generation capacity as quickly as possible
Despite these efforts, Eskom ramped up its rotational load shedding to Stage 3 and Stage 4 due to breakdowns and capacity constraints. The Cabinet has joined the Minister of Electricity, Dr. Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, in recognizing that Eskom employees are key to solving the country’s energy challenges.
On-site Insights: Power Station Tours
Dr. Ramokgopa is currently touring all 14 power stations to gain first-hand insight into the challenges facing Eskom at the power station level. These visits provide opportunities to engage with management, workers, and unions at the coalface, fostering collaboration as part of a program to improve generation capacity and ultimately address electricity shortages.
Growth Forecast Adjustments
The South African Reserve Bank has recently lowered South Africa’s growth forecast for 2023 slightly to 0.2% from the 0.3% expected in January. This change is due to extensive load shedding and logistical constraints.
Persistently high levels of power cuts have added significant costs across the agriculture and food value chain, resulting in stubbornly high food price inflation. Casey Delport, an investment analyst at Anchor Capital, notes that load shedding is both detrimental to South Africa’s growth and inflationary.
The Road Ahead
Delport predicts that load shedding will likely remain at relatively high levels for the foreseeable future. This, in turn, will be a critical factor in keeping local food prices higher for longer. As South Africa continues to grapple with the consequences of load shedding, the government’s commitment to addressing the issue remains a top priority.