South Africa

Total blackout will not happen – Gwede Mantashe

Mineral and Energy Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said there would not be a total collapse of South Africa’s electricity grid as it is stable.

Mantashe made this prediction as part of a discussion about Eskom and energy with Newzroom Africa’s Xoli Mngambi.

When Mngambi asked the minister how he could be certain there would not be a grid collapse, he answered, “There will be no grid collapse because there is a grid that is stable”. 

South Africa’s electricity grid is designed to shut down if the demand for electricity outstrips the supply. This will result in a total blackout, where the grid has no electricity.

Load-shedding is implemented to artificially reduce the demand for electricity and prevent this doomsday scenario.

Mantashe acknowledged that investment was required in grid capacity but reiterated that he believes load-shedding will end in six to twelve months.

Despite his assurance that there will not be a total blackout, Mantashe said it is worth it for businesses to mitigate the risk of a grid collapse on their continued operations.

Total blackout warnings

Many prominent South African energy and business leaders have warned of a total blackout’s potential threat and consequences.

Former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said that exempting certain institutions from load-shedding, as proposed in a landmark court case, could result in a blackout.

Standard Bank CEO Sim Tshabalala said that a total blackout would have devastating consequences for the country.

He said that although it is a low-probability event, Standard Bank has plans about what to do if that eventuality materialises. 

Political analyst JP Landman said that pressure to implement lower stages of load-shedding without the improved performance of the generation fleet increases the risk of a total blackout.

A sufficient gap between demand and supply for electricity must be maintained to avoid this risk.

Nedbank chief economist Nicky Weimar said that South Africa narrowly avoided a total blackout in February, as demand for electricity came close to outstripping supply.


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