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South African vice president says power outages to ease

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President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa (left) with David Mabuza in Pretoria who he reappointed as deputy president. Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

South Africa’s erratic power supply will improve after a new electricity plant becomes operational at the end of the year, Vice President David Mabuza told parliament on Thursday.

Power utility Eskom has since Tuesday implemented planned blackouts, after breakdowns at its power generating stations.

“South Africans must be confident that we are going to get out of this problem,” he said

“Medupi will be operational probably around the end of the year, if everything goes well,” he said, referring to the multi-billion dollar coal-fired power station marred by crippling cost overruns, design problems and completion delays.

“Gradually it will reduce the pressure on the generation of electricity.”

The rolling blackouts, implemented for up to four hours at a time, cost South Africa’s already weak economy millions coupled with the effects of the Covid-19 lockdown.

The power utility said Thursday power rationing was expected to continue into the weekend.

Eskom, which generates about 90 percent of South Africa’s power and is the continent’s largest electricity company, is labouring under a debt tag of over 480 billion rands ($28.5 billion).

It has become synonymous with some of South Africa’s worst corruption scandals that occured during ex-president Jacob Zuma’s tenure.


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