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South Africa: Power cuts suspended "until further notice"- Eskom

Eskom Power plant   -  
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South Africa

Power cuts, which have been almost a daily occurrence for months in South Africa and can last up to almost twelve hours on some days, have been suspended "until further notice", state-owned utility Eskom announced on Saturday.

"Load shedding was suspended today at 11:40 am (09:40 GMT) and until further notice, thanks to improved generation capacity and lower demand," Eskom spokeswoman Daphne Mokwena told AFP.

The company did not specify how long these improvements will allow some 60 million South Africans to live without power cuts, saying on Twitter that "Eskom will immediately communicate any significant changes".

"It is not possible to predict at this stage how long the suspension will last. We encourage the public to monitor their consumption, especially during peak hours," stressed Ms. Mokwena, adding that load shedding could otherwise resume "at any time".

The continent's leading industrial power is in the grip of a deep electricity crisis that has worsened since last year. Days without power cuts are rare. Eskom, for example, exceptionally suspended load shedding over the Christmas period.

The state-owned company, which supplies the vast majority of the country's electricity, is weighed down by a fleet of dilapidated and failing coal-fired power plants. Unable to produce enough power, it imposes scheduled blackouts.

Eskom is also racked by debt after years of mismanagement and corruption under President Jacob Zuma (2009-2018).

The load shedding costs the economy more than $50 million a day in lost production, according to the government. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of disaster in February, before lifting it two months later and appointing a Minister of Electricity, in an attempt to get out of the crisis.

South Africa still draws 80% of its electricity from coal. A $98 billion investment plan was approved by rich countries last year at COP27 as part of an agreement for a "just transition" to clean energy.

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