South Africa going the way of Nigeria with electricity

Energy analyst Chris Yelland said South Africa is following in Nigeria’s footsteps, where all businesses and households must provide their own electricity.

On Tuesday, Eskom announced it would implement stage 6 load-shedding during the evenings to replenish reserves.

“The pattern of implementing Stage 4 from 05:00 until 20:00 and Stage 6 from 20:00 until 05:00 will be repeated daily until Saturday morning,” Eskom stated.

Higher stages of load-shedding surprised many people since Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said Eskom’s performance has improved.

“The energy availability factor (EAF) has been consistent on an average of 60% for the past 14 days. We are getting much closer to the target of 70% EAF that we had promised,” he said in June.

Yelland and other energy experts warned that the Minister’s optimism was misplaced and South Africans should brace for more load-shedding in the years ahead. They were right.

Eskom’s EAF dropped again in recent weeks and dropped below 53.4% last week.

Yelland highlighted that Eskom initially reported that the EAF for week 46 was 55.5%. However, they corrected it after he alerted them to the error.

Therefore, Eskom’s plant performance is moving in the wrong direction and is behind the increased load-shedding South Africans are experiencing.

The situation is so dire that the People’s Republic of China donated emergency power equipment to assist South Africa with power cuts.

The first consignment of 450 gasoline generators has arrived in South Africa and will be distributed to public service facilities.

“The generators will be used as a backup to alleviate the impacts of load-shedding in the delivery of services in clinics, schools and courts,” the Presidency said.

Commenting on the development, Yelland told 702 that these generators are emergency equipment not intended for continuous use.

“It is a stopgap measure and not a good sign. It is a sign that we are heading in the direction of Nigeria’s electricity supply industry,” he said.

The Nigerian power sector cannot supply adequate electricity to domestic households and industrial producers.

Only 45% of Nigeria’s population is connected to the energy grid, and power supply difficulties are experienced around 85% of the time. It is almost non-existent in certain regions.

This means that in Nigeria, every business and household has to look after their own electricity supply to keep the lights on.

He added that diesel and petrol generators are noisy, pollute the environment and are very expensive to run.

It is, therefore, not a good solution to the country’s energy needs. Solar PV with battery backup is a more sustainable and affordable option.

Eskom’s latest EAF numbers

Yelland said Eskom’s EAF dropped to 53.4% last week – far below Ramokgopa’s 60% to 70% target.

“It will be interesting to see the EAF for this week, which covers the seven-day period ending Sunday, 26 Nov 2026, during which stage 6 load-shedding started again,” he said.

The chart below, courtesy of Yelland and EE Business Intelligence, shows Eskom’s EAF for the first 46 weeks of the 2023 calendar year.


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