Load Shedding Reprieve Presents New Challenges for Eskom, Says Ramokgopa

Fixing Eskom’s Issues

In a recent statement, Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa highlighted an unexpected problem arising from Eskom’s recent success. While South Africa has enjoyed over 50 days without load shedding, fixing Eskom’s generation issues has led to new engineering challenges.

  • Eskom’s Repairs: “To stop load shedding, Eskom had simply repaired the machines that were giving problems, after identifying six power stations responsible for 70% of the losses (17,000 MW), known as the unplanned capacity loss factor,” explained Ramokgopa.
  • Unexpected Surplus: “Three of them have graduated from being problem power stations. Kusile, Majuba have graduated and are some of the best power stations. As a result, we have a new problem, which is that we are generating more electricity than we need. As I speak to you, we are putting the machines on cold reserve,” he said.

New Engineering Problems

The surplus electricity is causing new issues for Eskom.

  • Excess Generation: “We simply say please stop generating, we are generating a lot. That is a new problem that we have. It is adding new engineering problems, by the way, because if we generate more than we consume it may result in a grid collapse,” Ramokgopa warned.
  • Clarifying Diesel Usage: “I am making that point just to say to you we are not burning diesel. We get to be accused – of course, it is cynicism – people accuse us of burning diesel.”

Engagement with Industry Leaders

Ramokgopa was addressing industry leaders at a business breakfast in Durban, hosted by KwaZulu-Natal’s MEC for Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs, Siboniso Duma.

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Business Concerns

During the event, several key business leaders expressed their concerns.

  • Security and Elections: Spar Group’s former chairman, Graham O’Connor, voiced worries about potential unrest linked to upcoming elections. “We are very nervous about what is coming over the next couple of weeks with the elections. We need to make sure we deliver and have some discussions with SAPS to ensure there is security in place,” he said.
  • Action Needed: “We talk all the time; now, we need action to take place. The point I want to make is that over and above talking, let us do something. One thing we need to do is to improve the issue of water and sanitation,” O’Connor added.

Port Challenges and Reforms

Nkumbuzi Ben-Mazwi, acting manager for the Port of Durban, discussed the challenges and reforms at the port.

  • Facing Adversities: “We have experienced a lot of adversities, beginning with the 2021 riots, a cyberattack, and floods in KwaZulu-Natal,” Ben-Mazwi said. However, significant reforms have been made since the appointment of a new board.
  • Streamlined Operations: “With that board, we have been given direction as a port. About two weeks ago, we had a sharing session where we streamlined and identified some of the challenges, especially issues on procurement, supply chain related issues, and lack of investment,” he explained.
  • Investment in Equipment: “One problem we had was issues of tugs. These are critical for mooring vessels. We have been having a shortage of this equipment. As we speak now, we have five tugs that we are buying. They are currently in Singapore and will go to East London next.”
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Infrastructure Improvements

Ben-Mazwi also mentioned ongoing infrastructure improvements around the port.

  • Road Rehabilitation: “There is a road rehabilitation programme around the Port of Durban to enhance the smooth flow of traffic and the condition of the roads due to the shift from rail to road transport.”
  • Channel Deepening and Widening: “We are deepening the channel at the Durban Container Terminal and planning the same for Maydon Wharf, where we deal a lot with agriculture issues.”

Big Business Engagement

KwaZulu-Natal’s government continues to engage with big business to address delays and improve efficiency.

  • Provincial Support: MEC Siboniso Duma, also the KZN leader of government business, noted that big business has previously engaged with President Cyril Ramaphosa and the provincial government regarding port delays.
  • Progress and Presentations: “We remain satisfied with the progress that has been made. We will receive a comprehensive presentation around the work that has been done around our ports,” Duma concluded.

Eskom’s recent achievements in stabilizing electricity supply bring both relief and new challenges. Continued collaboration and innovation are essential to navigate these complexities and ensure sustained progress.

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