THE MOST FROM THE COAST !

..


 Coastweek website


XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 
Bleak future as South Africans face an unending energy crisis

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- Parliament Speaker Baleka Mbete on Tuesday rejected a request to reconvene Parliament to address a worsening power crisis.

In reply to the request from the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), Mbete said she agreed that the prevailing energy crisis was a very serious matter for the nation.

However, existing parliamentary portfolio committees, including the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, are empowered to deal with the issues at electricity utility Eskom, said Mbete.

"The relevant committees could, therefore, take up the matter if needed and there was no need for the National Assembly to be reconvened at this point," the Speaker said.

Even if an ad hoc committee was required, such would not require the House to reconvene, she added.

Last week, DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen wrote to Mbete, requesting the reconvening of Parliament, which has been dissolved before the May 8 general elections, to find solutions to constant rolling power blackouts which are blamed on state-run Eskom.

This in light of Eskom having entered stage four load shedding for eight consecutive days, has already cost the South African economy billions of rands, Steenhuisen said.

Mbete said that although the National Assembly has been dissolved, it remains competent to function in terms of the Constitution.

Parliament’s relevant committees, including ad hoc committees, could convene to discuss matters and potentially report if needed, Mbete said.

"This did not require the National Assembly to meet first," she added.

In response to Mbete’s rejection, Steenhuisen claimed it is clear that in direct contrast to the powers and privileges awarded to Mbete by the Rules of Parliament, the Speaker is taking her instructions directly from ruling African National Congress (ANC) and is acting in the interests of the ANC, rather than the 57 million South Africans who rely on Parliament to develop and implement solutions to crises such as that of Eskom.

"The Speaker has a constitutional obligation to ensure that the Legislature resolves the problems that the Executive is unable or unwilling to deal with," Steenhuisen said.

Since February, particularly for the past week, South Africa has been hit hard by a new spate of rolling power blackouts.

The DA is planning a national day of action against the power crisis on March 29, with the aim of forcing the government to take real action in addressing the issue.
.

UPDATES:

Electricity generation stable with low risk of load shedding in South Africa: cabinet

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- Electricity generation has been stable this week with a low risk of load shedding thanks to good progress being made in acquiring sufficient coal and diesel supplies, the cabinet said on Friday.

There has also been good progress with regard to water reserves at pumped storage stations at hydro-electricity plants, the cabinet said as it concluded its program of this 5th administration before the May 8 elections.

South African will go to the polls on May 8, after which the 6th administration will be formed since the end of apartheid in 1994.

The cabinet commended the Eskom management and staff for their efforts to provide stable, consistent and reliable energy supply both to the economy and South Africans under difficult operating conditions, spokesperson Phumla Williams said.

Deputy President David Mabuza, tasked with coordinating efforts to address the power crisis, has reported to the cabinet on developments regarding Eskom and electricity constraints, Williams said.

The Technical Review Panel, appointed by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and the Eskom board in March 2019, will finish some of its work by early next week and will have some preliminary results from its review of Eskom power stations, according to Williams.

"This will assist Eskom and government to put in place a more rigorous program of power-plant maintenance, which will help stabilize the generation system over the next few weeks and months," she said.

Williams disclosed that further options are being considered to support the cash-strapped power utility, but she did not give details.

All South Africans should cooperate and come up with new ideas as well as energy-saving practices that were applied in the past to reduce the demand for electricity, said Williams.

These include switching off geysers, swimming pool pumps and lights that are not in use, she said.

Further progress on Eskom and electricity generation will be provided within the next week, Williams said.

South Africa experienced the most severe rolling power blackouts for 10 consecutive days earlier this month, which crippled businesses and industries, hampered transport and affected over 8 million people at any given time.

Poor management and alleged corruption at Eskom, which provides about 95 percent of electricity consumed in the country, are believed to be the major factors that have led to the power crisis.

Eskom has been accused of using load shedding to blackmail the government into helping it repay its heavy debt amounting to 420 billion rand (about 29 billion U.S. dollars) so as to prevent it from bankruptcy.

But the utility has denied the allegation, saying the recent load shedding was caused by the breakdown of several power stations.

It also says it implements load shedding as a last resort to protect the national system from a total collapse which would have significant impact on the economic development of South Africa.

South Africa has suffered from power insufficiency since 2008.

Power cuts, which have cost the economy billions of dollars, again become commonplace since February this year when Eskom implemented the most extensive load shedding in recent years, plunging large parts of the country into darkness.
.

South African electricity woes not to affect Namibia: official

WINDHOEK Namibia (Xinhua) -- The load-shedding in South Africa will not affect Namibia, as Namibia does not solely depend on Eskom for energy, according to Namibia’s power utility, Managing Director Kahenge Haulofu.

The question of power security in Namibia had arisen following the announcement by South Africa’s Eskom on March 18, on the implementation of the stage 4 rotational load shedding in the country.

Eskom in the statement said this is due to a shortage of capacity and the load-shedding is a highly controlled process, implemented to protect the system and to prevent a total collapse of the system or a national black.

Namibia is an active trader in the Southern African Power Pool Electricity Market and, apart from the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) it has with Eskom, Namibia also has PPA with Zimbabwe Power Corporation and Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation, Haulofu told Xinhua Monday.

According to Haulofu, the Ruacana Hydro Power Plant, located in the Northern part of the country, and the Anixas Diesel plants, are currently dispatched optimally to avert possible load-shedding in the southwestern African nation.

"Namibia enjoys an increase in locally generation energy, attributed to the national REFIT projects and other independent power producer projects that have reached completion and are actively feeding into the national grid," he added.

Currently NamPower imports 200 MW from Eskom as per the PPA signed between the two parties of five years ending in March 2022.
.

Electricity tariff hikes disastrous on mining sector: South African Minerals Council

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- The Minerals Council of South Africa said it is worried about the tariff increases recently granted to Eskom as they could destabilize the mining industry and lead to over 90,000 job losses in the next three years.

The Minerals Council took on the matter after the National Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) granted power utility Eskom average tariff increases of 9.4 percent, 8.1 percent and 5.2 percent over the next three years.

The Council said the effects of this could be devastating.

"There is no doubt that the substantial tariff increases will have a major impact on the industry’s cost structure, jeopardizing the viability of marginal and loss-making mines and, inevitably, accelerating job losses at energy-intensive mines in particular," Council’s Henk Langenhoven said on Wednesday.

Langenhoven told Xinhua the mining sector is the biggest user of electricity in the country.

"It is most disappointing that the regulator has chosen to support Eskom’s own inevitable downward spiral that will come as a result of inflated tariff increases and declining electricity usage by a critical consumer.

"The mining industry consumes around 30 percent of Eskom’s annual power supply, for both mining and smelting activities," he said.

The mining industry is not only a major customer, but a consistent and early payer, Langenhoven said.

"The mining industry is a price taker which means that it does not set the price of the product it produces.

"These prices are set by the market." he said, adding the sustainability of a mining operation is dependent on its "ability to contain its cost of production."

Statistics SA’s March report showed that the mining sector is in recession.
.

South African tax collection department to go on strike over salary disagreements

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African Revenue Services (SARS) employees will down tools on Thursday over salary disagreements, said the National Health, Education and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu).

Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha said on Tuesday that they have notified the employer about the strike and are in possession of the strike certificate.

He said the strike is as a result of a deadlock in the wage negotiations that has been ongoing for the past five months.

Nehawu is demanding a 11.4 percent salary increment and performance bonus policy.

Saphetha said they will not move until the employer puts a better offer on the table.

He stated that they believe the government is able to pay the said amount and their demands are reasonable.

Ivan Fredericks, general manager of trade union, the Public Servants Association of South Africa, also confirmed that they will down tools on Thursday.

He said that they met the employer on Monday and were offered about 7 percent increase which they rejected.
.

South Africa urged to join national day of
action against consistent power blackouts

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) on Wednesday urged South Africans suffering from a worsening power shortage to join a national day of action against what "is now a national crisis."

The DA said it planned to launch the national day of action on March 29, with the aim of urging the government to take real action when the country is being crippled by consistent power outages.

"We call on South Africans in every community, town and city across the country to join us in a collective protest against what is now a national crisis," the DA said.

As rolling power outages continued, more and more South Africans have vented their anger on social media at the government’s failure to fix the power shortage.

Fear among the public has been mounting following messages circulating on social media that South Africa will run out of electricity soon.

But electricity utility Eskom on Wednesday denied the allegation, calling it "false and misleading."

"Messages being circulated via social and digital media indicating that there will not be electricity in South Africa are false and misleading," the utility said.

For the past week, South Africa has been hit hard by continued rolling blackouts.

As power outages become more frequent, President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged South Africans to prepare for tougher times in days to come.

Load shedding has turned from bad to worse since Saturday after tropical cyclone Idai struck Mozambique.

South Africa is so dependent on electricity imports from neighboring states that a loss of 1,100 megawatts (MW) from Mozambique forced Eskom to implement stage 4 load shedding, which allows for up to 4000 MW of the national load to be discarded.

Stage 4 is the most severe load shedding that was first implemented in February and now has been in effect for the past five consecutive days.

There have been reports that Eskom is preparing stage 5 and 6 load shedding, which means that the utility will shed 5,000 MW and 6,000 MW respectively.

This is an indication that the national grid is on the brink of collapse.

South Africa has never experienced higher than stage 4 load shedding.

Eskom has denied that it would implement stage 5 and 6 load shedding but has acknowledged that there is a race against time to ensure that a national blackout and grid collapse do not occur.

"Load shedding is controlled and managed on a rotational basis for a period of between two or four hours at a time, depending on the schedule that the customer is on, on a particular day," said the state-run parastatal, which provides about 95 percent of the electricity consumed in South Africa.

It must be noted that load shedding is implemented as a last resort measure to protect the national electricity system, Eskom said.

"We will continue to provide regular updates about the state of the power system through various media and through the official Eskom social media platforms," it said.

On Wednesday, hundreds of people gathered at outside Eskom headquarters in Johannesburg, demanding an end to load shedding and protesting against the government’s failure to provide this basic service to the nation.

It is a complete failure of governance that has brought the country to the brink of collapse, with nationwide electricity blackouts becoming the new normal, DA leader Mumsi Maimane said.

"As South Africans, we must take a collective stand before it is too late," he said.

The DA, he said, will mobilize the nation to pressure the government to take the action required to fix this national crisis.

"South Africa needs this change, and we need it now.

"And I urge every citizen who loves this country to join this national day of action so that we can usher in change and save our nation from the brink of collapse," said Maimane.

Maimane reiterated the DA’s call to privatize Eskom and allow a diverse range of energy to enter the grid, thus increasing competition and lowering costs.

Ramaphosa has ruled out the possibility of privatizing Eskom that has long been hampered by alleged corruption and poor management.

Eskom is facing debts amounting to 420 billion rand (about 30 billion U.S. dollars).

The utility has urgently appealed to the government to help it repay the debt so as to prevent it from bankruptcy.

Eskom has been accused of using load shedding to blackmail the government, but the utility has denied the allegation, saying the recent load shedding was caused by the breakdown of several power stations.

Previous attempts by the government to bail out embattled Eskom have failed.

On Wednesday, Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni confirmed in a letter to the DA that the National Treasury does not know how big the new proposed bailout to Eskom will be.

In his budget speech last month, the minister said that the government will bail out Eskom with 23 billion rand (about 160 million dollars) yearly over the next three years.

However, this bailout is now likely to increase given Eskom’s current situation, Mboweni said.
.

Government committed to tackling energy crisis: South Africa President

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- With rolling power outages hitting South Africa for over a week, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government is committed to tackling the energy crisis affecting the country.

Addressing thousands commemorating Human Rights Day in Sharpeville, Gauteng on Thursday, Ramaphosa acknowledged the effects of the crisis on the economy.

"We are currently facing a severe energy crisis that is having a profound impact on the lives of our people and our economy," he said.

Ramaphosa said resolving the problem is being prioritized.

"Restoring a reliable supply of electricity and ensuring that we have a sustainable model for affordable energy is one of our urgent priorities," he said.

"We will overcome the electricity crisis just as we will overcome unemployment, poverty and corruption."

South Africa is suffering from some of the worst power cuts in recent years.

Investment banking company Goldman Sachs said if the current intensity of load-shedding were to persist in 2019, it could subtract up to about 0.9 percentage points from the annual growth.

The World Bank projected South Africa’s economy growth rate in 2019 at 1.3 percent.
.

EARLIER REPORTS:

South African power utility denies ‘Day-Zero’ in electricity supply

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s power utility Eskom on Wednesday rejected reports about an upcoming Day-Zero when there will be no electricity in the country.

"Messages being circulated via social and digital media indicating that there will not be electricity in South Africa are false and misleading," the utility said.

Eskom is aware of its parody accounts being used to spread fake news, it said.

Over the past week, South Africa has been hard hit by a worsening power crisis.

Amid more frequent power blackouts, President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged South Africans to prepare for tougher times to come.

Load-shedding has has worsened since Saturday following the onslaught of tropical cyclone Idai in Mozambique.

A loss of 1,100 megawatts from Mozambique forced Eskom to implement stage 4 load-shedding, which allows for up to 4000 MW of the national load to be shed.

Stage 4 is the most severe load-shedding that was first implemented in February and now has been in effect for the past five consecutive days.

There have been reports that Eskom is preparing stage 5 and 6 load-shedding, meaning that the utility will shed 5,000 MW and 6,000 MW respectively, seen as an indication that the national grid is on the brink of collapse.

South Africa has never experienced higher than stage 4 load-shedding.

Eskom has denied that it would implement stage 5 and 6 load-shedding but acknowledged that there is a race against time to ensure that a national blackout and grid collapse does not happen.

"Load-shedding is controlled and managed on a rotational basis for a period of between two or four hours at a time, depending on the schedule that the customer is on, on a particular day," the utility said.

Load-shedding is implemented as a measure of last resort to protect the national electricity system, Eskom said.

"We will continue to provide regular updates about the state of the power system through various media and through the official Eskom social media platforms," it said.
.

Aging power plants contribute to ongoing power outages: Eskom

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- Maintenance has not been done to some of Eskom’s aging power plants over the past five years, exacerbating power cuts problems currently confronting South Africa, Eskom said on Tuesday, the fifth consecutive day of load shedding.

Board Chairman Jabu Mabuza said at a media briefing providing details about issues facing Eskom that more than half of Eskom’s power plants are over 37 years," Equipment has worn out and torn."

"Some important maintenance work has not been done in the last five years.

"We need time to figure things out and do the things we were supposed to do," he said.

Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe said the maintenance of these plants deteriorated substantially over the last 10 years.

Hadebe added that during this period, maintenance spending saw a drastic reduction from R37 billion (about 2.56 billion U.S. dollars) to R10 billion.

It emerged at the briefing that money which was meant for maintenance was "diverted."

A total of R50 billion has been set aside for maintenance for the next five years.

There are currently seven generating units which have broken down due to boiler tube leaks.

The break down and loss of power from Mozambique due to a cyclone resulted in the current stage 4 load shedding.

When asked if load shedding could end on Wednesday, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said a detailed response would only be given once an investigation into Eskom’s plants is completed.

"We have sent 14 engineers that are visiting the plants, the power stations to give us an independent view of what is going on and how quickly we can repair what’s going on there," the minister said.

Eskom has the capacity to produce 48,000 MW of power but only 28,000 MW is available.
.

South Africa businesses hit by power outages

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- While President Cyril Ramaphosa has apologized for the rolling blackouts gripping South Africa, experts said small or emerging businesses would be left devastated by the ongoing power outages.

Towns and cities have been plunged into darkness since Saturday when state-owned power utility Eskom implemented load shedding set to last until Wednesday.

While bigger companies can operate businesses using generators during power outages, small businesses are the hardest hit.

"These businesses suffer the most because they can’t produce during these power interruptions.

"They are being squeezed and will go out of business because they don’t have the necessary backups," Jannie Rossouw, head of Wits Business and Economic Sciences School, said.

"As a result of this our economic growth might be low if this persists," he told Xinhua.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said that he has spoken with Eskom to ensure large companies are not adversely impacted.

"The continuation of load shedding and in particular stage 4 is unacceptable and disruptive to the economy," Gordhan said.

Eskom has cited a shortage of capacity due to loss of additional capacity from Mozambique.

Transmission lines in Mozambique have been damaged by the ongoing tropical cyclone.

           

Remember: you read it first at coastweek.com !


Sarova Taita Hills Easter banner

 

TO ADVERTISE ON THIS WEB SITE:  www.coastweek.com
Please contact

MOMBASA - GULSHAN JIVRAJ, Mobile: 0722 775164 Tel: (+254) (41) 2230130 /
Wireless: 020 3549187 e-mail: info@coastweek.com

NAIROBI - ANJUM H. ASODIA, Mobile: 0733 775446 Tel: (+254) (020) 3744459
e-mail: anjum@asodia.co.ke

 
    © Coastweek Newspapers Limited               Tel: (+254) (41) 2230130  |  Wireless: 020 3549187  |  E-mail: info@coastweek.com