Persistent Load-Shedding: A Harsh Reality
- Minister’s Admittance: Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa acknowledges that ending load-shedding isn’t imminent due to unreliable power units. “We have no control over some of these units; they are extremely unreliable,” he states.
- Festive Season Respite Short-lived: Despite efforts, the festive season’s load-shedding break was interrupted by continual power plant failures.
Ramokgopa’s Role and New Powers
- Clarified Responsibilities: A recent memorandum with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan defines Ramokgopa’s focus on transmission-related issues.
- Transmission Development Plan: Plans include constructing 1,675km of transmission lines by 2027, with proposals to extend to 6,000km.
- Financing Challenges: The need for private investment and Just Energy Transition Investment Plan funding is emphasized.
Roadmap for Eskom’s Transformation
- Divisional Separation: Eskom’s restructuring into transmission, distribution, and generation divisions is a key step.
- Board Appointments: Eskom’s National Transmission Company of South Africa welcomes 12 new board members, guiding expansion plans.
- Infrastructure Expansion Needs: A staggering 14,000km of transmission lines are needed by 2032 to alleviate power shortages and integrate new power contributors.
The Broader Impact
- Periods of Blackouts Expected: Ramokgopa warns of alternating periods of stability and load-shedding.
- Long-Term Solutions Sought: The government aims to develop financing models with the treasury and presidency, seeking sustainable solutions without losing state ownership of the grid.
While South Africa had a brief respite from load-shedding during the holidays, the return of power cuts underscores the ongoing struggle with an aging and unreliable power fleet. Minister Ramokgopa’s expanded role in addressing transmission constraints and Eskom’s ambitious plans for infrastructure development highlight the government’s efforts to tackle the crisis. However, the path ahead is fraught with financial and logistical challenges, necessitating innovative solutions and substantial investment.