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Power Outages Hamper S. Africa Economics

FILE - Thandiwe Sithole studies by a candle while her grandmother Phumzile Sithole looks on during one of frequent power outages from South African utility Eskom caused by its aging coal-fired plants, in Soweto, South Africa, March 9, 2022.

South Africa can have nice policy on paper but it is useless if it can't provide electricity, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said on Thursday.

"We want to resolve the Eskom issue soon, part of that… is to make sure (it has) a healthy balance sheet," Godongwana said during a meeting with the country's delegation to the World Economic Forum that kicks off in Davos next week.

The minister said an "appropriate announcement" on Eskom would be made on Feb. 22. South Africa's annual budget is normally presented in February, and Godongwana is expected to unveil a plan for the government to take on part of the utility's roughly 400 billion rand ($23.59 billion) debt.

Struggling state utility Eskom extended the country's worst-ever power cuts on Wednesday as more of its generating units broke down.

Power outages are a major source of public frustration with the governing African National Congress party and a brake on economic growth in Africa's most industrialized nation.