South Africa’s next electricity crisis is coming – Ramokgopa

South Africa is set to face another electricity crisis in the immediate future from the deterioration and collapse of municipal infrastructure around the country, resulting in outages in some areas despite no load-shedding occurring. 

This is feedback from Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, who said the country’s focus must begin to shift to the “next front” in the battle against outages. 

The shift in focus comes at a time when the effects of load-shedding on the South African economy have eased as companies and households reduce their demand for Eskom’s electricity. 

Electricity demand is 6% less in 2024 than in 2023. This is partly because many businesses and households have installed rooftop solar.

Another change from last year is that three generating units at the Kusile Power Station returned to service.

These units generate 2,400 MW if they operate at their peak capacity, eliminating two load-shedding stages.

However, this does not mean that South Africa is out of the woods regarding its energy crisis, as load-shedding is likely to make a return and new crises emerge. 

In particular, Ramokgopa is concerned about the rapid deterioration of municipal distribution infrastructure, which has resulted in some areas experiencing outages despite a stable electricity supply. 

He explained that last-mile electricity distribution infrastructure was “the next front” in the electricity crisis, and the collapse of this infrastructure was accelerating. 

“We know many municipalities are illiquid and not in a position to meet their financial obligations as a result of an eroding revenue base. I think the situation is going to become acute.”

The minister said he had been calling on the government to address this infrastructure collapse by giving municipalities the financial capacity to respond.

Energy analyst Chris Yelland

Ramokgopa’s concerns echo those of energy analyst Chris Yelland, who previously said that a crisis was brewing in the distribution sector of the electricity industry.

Yelland said that strong progress has been made in reforming the country’s electricity industry, but this has been predominantly focused on the transmission grid. 

very little progress has been made in reforming South Africa’s electricity distribution sector, which is largely made up of municipalities. 

Yelland said many outages and equipment failures occur at this level, with infrastructure such as local substations inadequately maintained or upgraded. 

Compounding this issue is the dire financial situation many of South Africa’s municipalities are in, with a large portion of them unable to pay Eskom for the electricity it provides. 

“This points to a completely dysfunctional electricity distribution sector. I do not see sufficient attention given to the reforms needed,” Yelland said. 

Reforms to this sector have been tried before, such as attempts to put the distribution of electricity into the hands of larger regional managers rather than municipalities. 

However, these attempts have failed, leaving the sector to continue to flounder and little progress made to implement key reforms. 

“This sector really needs more attention now, much more attention because that is where a big crisis is brewing,” Yelland said. 


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