South Africa in 'National State of Disaster' following collapse of power grid

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On Thursday, South Africa declared a National State of Disaster as the country’s power grid continues to collapse despite scheduled power outages lasting up to 12 hours by the state run power company Eskom, which supplies 90 percent of the entire country’s power.

According to a statement from the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, “Considering the magnitude, severity, and progression of the severe electricity supply constraint.”

The National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) declared the “national state of disaster to prevent the possible progression to a total blackout from occurring and taking into account the possibility to augment existing measures already undertaken by the organs of state to deal with electricity supply constraint.”

According to NPR, “South Africa’s power crisis is crippling one of Africa’s biggest economies and threatening the reelection prospects of the ruling party: the African National Congress.”

In order to prevent the collapse of the country’s power grid, Eskom has scheduled load sheddings that last up to 12 hours a day. In South Africa the scheduled power outages have been going on for 16 years and, according to NPR, President Cyril Ramaphosa and “the ruling African National Congress Party has done very little to prevent its imminent collapse.”

Small businesses make up one third of South Africa’s gross domestic product. Eskom has relied up to 80 percent on coal to power their grids but maintenance and updating of the country’s coal facilities has lagged over several decades. Several power plants have broken down from being overused from demand by the continent’s most industrialized economy and its need for energy.

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