South Africa’s deputy president apologized late Thursday to South Africans affected by rolling power cuts which have badly affected many businesses and students preparing to sit for their national exams.
“I think we must, on behalf of the government, apologize to all businesses and students that could not write exams for the inconvenience caused," David Mabuza said in the National Assembly.
On Wednesday, state-owned power utility Eskom began implementing rolling power cuts, known here as load shedding, paralyzing many businesses and affecting students set to sit for their first papers for the completion of their secondary school examinations.
Eskom blamed the power cuts on the breakdown of some of its generating units and increased electricity consumption.
Electricity is now being switched off in parts of the country for three or more hours between 9 a.m. and around 11 p.m. as engineers address the power crisis.
“We are looking at the problems that have affected Eskom and we want to assure South Africans that this problem will be attended to and we will return to normality,” he said
He said Eskom’s electricity capacity, which stood at 47,000 megawatts years back, has been reduced to around 35,000 megawatts because of aging infrastructure that has forced some generating units to stop operating.
Eskom, which supplies 95% of South Africa’s electricity needs, said the power cuts will continue Friday and urged consumers to ration their energy use.
This is the first time in six months that Africa’s most industrialized economy has seen widespread power cuts.
South Africans experienced the worst power blackouts in 2008. The government is now considering opening up space for independent power producers who could reduce the gap for energy demand in the continent’s most industrialized nation.
By Hassan Isilow in Johannesburg