South African Ramaphosa government declares ‘state of disaster’ in power | Energy news

Ramaphosa’s statement comes as South Africa’s power sector struggles to deal with prolonged daily blackouts, known as load shedding.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a state of disaster with immediate effect to tackle the country’s severe power supply crisis, including prolonged daily blackouts.

“Extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures. The energy crisis is an existential threat to our economy and social fabric,” Ramaphosa said in his State of the Nation address on Thursday night.

The disaster declaration comes at a time when power outages of up to eight hours a day are affecting homes, factories and businesses across the country of 60 million people. The state of disaster is an emergency measure previously introduced to combat the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and deadly floods that killed more than 400 people last year.

According to Ramaphosa, the declaration will allow his government to exempt essential services such as hospitals and water treatment plants from blackouts and will allow the government to buy additional power from neighboring countries in an emergency.

It will also allow the government to help businesses cope with the effects of widespread blackouts, including the wider availability of diesel-powered generators and solar panels.

The state-owned electricity utility Eskom is unable to produce adequate electricity due to frequent breakdowns at outdated coal-fired power plants and years of corruption.

Ramaphosa also announced that he will appoint a minister of electricity, whose sole focus will be to resolve the electricity crisis.

Ramaphosa’s speech was delayed by 45 minutes after he was interrupted by members of parliament from the left-wing opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party, who were eventually removed from the session by security personnel.

He is expected to reshuffle his cabinet following the resignation of Deputy President David Mabuza and changes in the leadership of the ruling African National Congress party. Ramaphosa is expected to appoint newly elected ANC deputy president Paul Mashatile to replace Mabuza.

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