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South Africa Blackouts May End 'Soon'

FILE: South Africa electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa at a China-South Africa New Energy Investment and Cooperation Conference in Sandton, South Africa, on June 13, 2023.

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's electricity minister said on Sunday the country was closer to ending daily power cuts as warmer weather returns towards the end of the year, but declined to give a specific date.

Blackouts have eased in the past few weeks - but there is a fear that as the southern hemisphere winter deepens in July and August, higher heating demand could trip many power plants.

South Africa is on course to see its most blackout days in history this year with daily power cuts extending to almost 10 hours a day, affecting businesses and households in an economy already hobbled by high interest rates and inflation.

The power cuts, called loadshedding locally, is expected to shave off 2 percentage points from GDP this year, the central bank said last month.

Due to interventions on system maintenance and availability and efforts from businesses and households, the worst case scenario of peak winter demand of 34,000 megawatts (MW) has not materialised, Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said in a news conference.

The capacity available is plateauing around 29,000 MW, giving enough room to bring the power cuts down to Stage 3, where 3,000 MW are taken off the grid, leading to between two and fours hours of daily power cuts, the minister added.

Ramokgopa said the country was reaching a stage where power generation was beginning to keep up with demand, with blackouts coming down from Stage 6 to Stage 3 in the space of six weeks.

South Africa could soon have no blackouts for 24 hours, he said.

"I want to say to the South African people we are much, much closer to that date," he said.