On Monday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa canceled his planned address at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York and will return home after attending British Queen Elizabeth's funeral to deal with nationwide blackouts.
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South Africa continues to endure long hours without electricity due to the breakdown of five generating units, the power utility Electricity Supply Commission (Eskom) said.
The country is currently at load shedding level six, meaning that the power utility must remove 6,000 megawatts of power from the grid. During this stage, the country can go without electricity for up to at least six to eight hours per day. Eskom said the country lost about 7,210 MW due to planned maintenance and 16,597 MW of capacity was lost to breakdowns.
"The system has been under pressure over the past week. This has caused us to run our reserves -- our diesel and our dams - very hard and we are now in a situation where we urgently need to replenish these reserves in order to maintain an adequate safety buffer as we are required to do by the grid code," said Eskom Chief Operating Officer Jan Oberholzer on Sunday.
The country is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and the load-shedding would make it difficult to recover, said Mtho Xulu, the president of the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI).
"Our estimate is that load shedding is costing the South African economy US$41.2 million per stage," he pointed out, adding that unreliable energy supply makes it difficult to convince investors that the country is the best investment destination.
Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said the government is eroding the little confidence citizens have regarding its leadership due to the current Stage 6 of nationwide rolling blackouts. The trade union said the government has poorly addressed the issue and called on the president to find a permanent solution to the crisis.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has reiterated its call for President Ramaphosa and the government to account for the energy response plan, saying Eskom is not entirely to blame for the country's power crisis.