South Africa facing a dark 2021

Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha has warned that the risk of load-shedding remains elevated for the better part of 2021.

He said significant levels of load-shedding is expected until at least September, after which the risk will be reduced. This, however, does not mean it will end altogether.

“We will have a respite here and there during this period, but our reality is that load-shedding will be with us for quite a while,” he said.

These comments come after Eskom announced that stage 2 load-shedding will continue on Monday despite initial plans to stop it on Sunday night.

Eskom explained that the prolonged load-shedding was needed because the return to service of some generation units has been delayed.

Eskom was able to return generation units at the Kriel, Grootvlei, and Duvha power stations to service, but two generation units at the Kusile power station are still unavailable.

Mantshantsha said the two units at Kusile, which will deliver 1,400MW of electricity, is expected to return to service today.

The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted the operations and maintenance at Eskom.

46 employees of one of their suppliers doing maintenance at the Medupi power station, for example, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Many teams in other power stations have also been impacted, and Eskom is expected to give further details later today.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is not making our situation, which was not good in the first place, any better,” Mantshantsha said.

Mantshantsha said it is regrettable that Eskom is in the situation it is, but added that their management and engineering teams are working hard to address the problems at the power utility.

He said four generation units at Medupi had their design defects repaired, and the last two are being worked on.

“The work will carry on at the Kusile power station and we hope to have a stable supply of 9,000MW from the two new power stations to reduce the risk of load-shedding,” he said.

Mantshantsha urged South Africans to do their part by reducing electricity use and report electricity and cable theft.

What people can do to prepare for load-shedding

With load-shedding expected for most of the year, there are ways to minimise the impact of blackouts on their lives.

This includes investing in the right equipment, staying abreast of the latest load-shedding times, and planning ahead to do work offline.

Eskom has given the guidelines below to help people to invest in the right equipment:

  • Buy surge protectors to protect your appliances against power surges which can occur when electricity returns after load-shedding.
  • Buy a generator or batteries to give you an alternative power source during load-shedding.
  • Invest in solar-powered emergency lights, backup torches, or candles to ensure you are not left in the dark during load-shedding.
  • Buy a gas stove to make it possible to cook even when the power goes down.
  • Also make sure your electronic equipment, including smartphones and laptops, is charged before load-shedding starts.

Most smartphones and laptops have enough battery power to outlast a load-shedding session, which means you can continue to work and community during this period.

You should also buy a UPS for your fibre or fixed-LTE router to help you to stay connected during a blackout.

The image below provides an overview of what people can do to prepare themselves for load-shedding.


Sikonathi Mantshantsha interview

Now read: Bad load-shedding news from Eskom

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South Africa facing a dark 2021