South Africa's Eskom schedules power outage in Gauteng, amid talk of politically-driven moratorium

By Elena Kachkova in Johannesburg May 9, 2024

South Africa’s state-owned power utility Eskom has announced power supply interruptions in some areas of Gauteng province this coming Tuesday (May 14), The South African reports.

The news comes amid widespread speculation that the government has put a moratorium on rolling power outages (locally called load shedding) until the upcoming general elections on May 29, to win favour at the ballot box – a charge that the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, recently publicly denied.

As of May 9, Eskom had not implemented load shedding for over 40 days, notes The South African. The power utility said that load shedding remains suspended, in general, due to the continued sustained improvement in generation performance and a 4,400MW reduction in unplanned outages.

Ramokgopa attributed this improved performance of Eskom’s power generation fleet to timely planned maintenance at its power plants carried out during recent months. The minister also claimed that the end of crippling power outages was “within touching distance,” as reported by NewsBase.

According to Eskom, there has been a consistent and significant improvement in curbing unplanned outages, technically known as the Unplanned Capacity Loss Factor (UCLF), due to the success of the Generation Operational Recovery plan which was initiated in March 2023.

Additionally, unplanned outages were on a downward trajectory and were less frequent compared to the same period last year, Eskom said. The utility noted that unplanned outages have reduced by close to 4,400MW, from 15,523MW last year to 11,036MW today.

As for the planned Gauteng province outage next week, according to Eskom, there will be electricity supply disruption in Meadowlands, Soweto due to maintenance that will be conducted on the distribution network.

“The power outage will affect customers in Meadowlands zone six to 12 on Tuesday, 14 May from 9:00 – 18:00. The interruption of electricity is necessary to perform essential maintenance on our distribution power lines,” the power utility said.

Eskom also warned its customers to treat all electrical appliances as “live” at all times during the power outage in the interest of safety.

“Eskom apologises for any inconvenience that may be caused by this maintenance,” the power utility said. “Should circumstances beyond the control of Eskom arise, the planned power outage may not proceed as communicated.”

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