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Eskom Cuts Power to S. Africa Again

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A shopkeeper counts change by the light of a battery-powered lamp during a load-shedding electricity blackout in Cape Town, South Africa, April 15, 2015. Electric utility Eskom has continued power cuts into January 2023.

UPDATED WITH NEW INFORMATION: South African power cuts worsened on Wednesday as struggling state utility Eskom said it would extend its worst-ever outages until further notice.

The "Stage 6" power cuts, the worst outage level on record, require up to 6,000 megawatts to be shed from the national grid and mean at least six hours a day without power for most South Africans.

The power cuts, also known as "loan shedding" have plagued South Africa during much of 2022 as the state-owned enterprise struggled with downed equipment and other problems resulting in people being left in the dark.

The outages are a major source of public frustration with the governing African National Congress party, whose support among voters is sliding, and a brake on economic growth in Africa's most industrialized nation.

Eskom has a nominal generation capacity of roughly 46,000 MW, but on Wednesday more than 23,000 MW of that was offline because of breakdowns or planned repairs.

Eskom said in a statement that 11 of its generators had suffered breakdowns since Tuesday morning.

The beleaguered utility supplies the vast majority of South Africa's electricity, relying mainly on an ageing fleet of coal-fired power stations that are unreliable and prone to faults.

Eskom, the utility, is cited as a victim of the President Jacob Zuma-era "State Capture" allegations, which assert that people connected to the former leader were allowed to loot Eskom and other state enterprises, leaving them financially crippled.

That, in turn, has reportedly prevented Eskom from having the requisite funds for repairing and upgrading its grid and generating capacity.

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