South Africa is facing an electricity distribution crisis, with infrastructure investment backlogs estimated at R27 billion rand, news agency SAPA quoted a government minister as saying.
Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said delays in establishing regional electricity distributors (Reds) was costing the country around R2 billion a year.
“I therefore urge all stakeholders to unite in purpose and action to ensure that this process is given the necessary impetus it needs,” she said.
Reuters adds South Africa’s utility Eskom has been rationing electricity since early last year when the national grid nearly collapsed, owing to a rise in demand and a lack of investment in new power generation capacity.
The power crisis forced mines and smelters to shut down for five days and cost Africa’s biggest economy billions of dollars.
Bloomberg adds that electricity distribution is “highly inefficient” because of “fragmentation” and tariff disparities. Phindile Nzimande, chief executive officer of state-owned EDI Holdings says supply interruptions cost the economy as much as R8.6 billion a year.
A “rescue” plan has been drawn up to help municipalities with maintenance and investment plans, Nzimande said. Power is now distributed by Eskom and 187 municipalities, she said.
The country is not yet “out of the woods” in terms of power-generation shortages, Sonjica said. Eskom is investing about 343 billion rand over five years to build new plants and revive old ones.
EDI was started in 2003 by South Africa`s government to help reorganize power distribution in the country, its web site shows.