Many South Africans faced rolling electricity blackouts recently following the collapse of a coal storage silo at Eskom’s Majuba power station in Mpumalanga.
The disruption at the Majuba power station, however, was only the straw that broke the camel’s back, said energy expert Chris Yelland.
According to Yelland the real reason why South Africans are facing rolling blackouts is the delay in bringing the new Medupi and Kusile power stations online.
He said that these projects have missed their initial deadlines by over 4 years, putting massive strain on South Africa’s electricity supply.
Eskom’s missed power station deadlines are only one of many missed deadlines which are affecting South Africans on a daily basis.
Here are more of the deadlines which the government has missed, and which are hurting the country.
In 2007 former communications minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri said that digital TV signal broadcasting will be switched on on 1 November 2008. She added that the analogue signal should be switched off in November 2011.
It is now November 2014 and the battle surrounding digital TV migration is still dragging on, with no clarity on when the process will be completed.
The move to Digital TV is important to free up digital dividend spectrum, which is needed to roll out wireless broadband networks.
The delay is therefore not only hurting South Africa’s broadcast environment, but is also holding back faster and cheaper broadband services.
Spectrum is one of the most valuable telecommunications resources, but instead of it being in the hands of operators to serve the population it is tied up in governmental bureaucracy.
The process to hand out spectrum to assist in the rollout of wireless broadband networks started in 2006, but nearly a decade later and this valuable resource is still sitting unused.
Mobile operators, including Vodacom and MTN, are pleading for spectrum to deploy faster data networks and reduce prices. Unfortunately these requests seem to fall on deaf ears.
Zuma job creation promise
President Jacob Zuma said in his State of the Nation address in June 2009 that “between now and December 2009, we plan to create about 500,000 job opportunities”.
Zuma added that the second phase of the Expanded Public Works Programme aimed to create about four million job opportunities by 2014.
According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) statistics, 395,000 jobs were lost between July and December 2009.
The DA said in 2014 that only 561,000 of the promised millions of jobs materialised from 2009 to 2014 – much lower than Zuma’s promise.
Medupi power station
Yelland said that ongoing delays in the construction of the Medupi Power Station moved the first operational date out by a minimum of 4 years.
The final Medupi completion date, initially planned for 31 October 2013, was pushed back to 30 June 2018.
“The soonest we can expect to actually have the full 4,800MW from Medupi is mid-2018 – eleven years after the project was announced at a cost of three times the original budget,” said Yelland.
This is, according to Yelland, the main reason for the strain on the electricity grid and a major contributor to load-shedding experienced by South Africans.