'State of disaster' declared in South Africa over energy crisis


South Africa
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his 2023 state of the nation address in Cape Town, South Africa, on Feb. 9. (Photo: Esa Alexander/Reuters)

The South African government has declared a state of emergency due to the country's severe electrical problem.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the emergency action, which would take effect immediately, during his Thursday address on the nation's status.

"Extraordinary conditions necessitate extraordinary actions. The energy issue is an existential threat to our economy and social fibre," said Mr Ramaphosa.

It comes as citizens in South Africa endure up to eight hours of rolling blackouts per day, with factories and companies also affected.

Due to frequent outages at its ageing coal-fired power stations, the country's power company, Eskom, cannot produce enough electricity.

These stations generate little more than half of their capacity as electricity demand continually exceeds supply.

Eskom has warned South Africans to expect protracted periods of power disruptions and has adopted a program of rolling blackouts called "load-shedding".

South Africa had earlier declared a state of emergency in preparation for the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 in the aftermath of last year's deadly floods, which killed over 400 people.

According to Mr Ramaphosa, the statement will enable his government to spare essential services such as hospitals and water treatment plants from power shortages.

Mr Ramaphosa added that it would allow the government to purchase additional power from neighbouring nations in an emergency and make diesel-powered generators and solar panels more readily available.

In addition to declaring an emergency, Mr Ramaphosa proclaimed that he would appoint an electrical minister whose primary responsibility would be to address the situation.

Publish : 2023-02-10 08:34:00

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