South Africa lifts ‘State of Disaster’ over electricity shortages

Power cuts have eased in recent weeks but continue to affect all of South Africa on a daily basis.

“Government has terminated, with immediate effect, the National State of Disaster,” the official statement said.

South Africa has been battered by record blackouts over the past year, triggered by mounting problems at the beleaguered power utility Eskom.

Known locally known as load-shedding, the outages cost more than $50m in lost production each day, according to Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.

The state of disaster was declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his annual state-of-the-nation address.

It unlocked additional resources and allowed the government to leapfrog some bureaucratic hurdles to implement energy projects.

‘Enhance interventions’

On Wednesday the government said the declaration had enabled it to “enhance interventions” towards boosting energy supplies.

But Deputy Minister for Cooperative Governance, Parks Tau, said the “extraordinary” measure was always meant to be temporary and the government determined the additional powers it granted were no longer necessary.

“Of course, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have a problem, the outages continue,” Tau told a press briefing.

“But we’ve determined that, in fact, the mitigation measures currently in place are able to mitigate and continuously reduce the levels of load-shedding.”

The government added the appointment of an electricity minister, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, which was also announced in February, has proved a “significant enabler of the improvement in the supply of electricity”.

“The Minister has in recent weeks undertaken oversight visits to power stations… to identify and resolve electricity supply constraints,” it said.

Power cuts are expected to continue for at least another year, according to Eskom’s estimates.

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