CAPE TOWN, South Africa — “Load shedding,” the practice of controlled blackouts by the state-owned power company, Eskom, continues to plague South Africa, and was recorded in an early morning video on Wednesday.
The video, shot at 4:07 a.m., shows the precise moment when power is cut to consumers at the Urban Square office park at the Century City mall — and when private generators kick in, restoring most of the electricity.
What “load shedding” in South Africa 🇿 looks and sounds like: Urban Square, Century City mall, Cape Town, South Africa, 4:07 a.m., February 15, 2023. The electricity from Eskom, the state-owned power company, cuts out, and then the private generators kick in. Credit: @joelpollak pic.twitter.com/XhMYvWnMlb
— Joel Pollak (@joelpollak) February 15, 2023
The power at Century City is distributed by the City of Cape Town, which in turn obtains power from Eskom. The city has its own additional hydroelectric generating capacity at the nearby Steenbras Dam, which helps to alleviate electricity shortages. Water is pumped up to the dam when power is available, and then descends through hydroelectric turbines during periods of electricity shortage to add additional generating capacity.
Load shedding affects millions of residents and businesses. Large companies typically install diesel-powered generators; some wealthy families install batteries or solar panels to make up for electricity outages. But for millions of people — especially the poor — the impact is tremendous. And when power is restored, electricity surges can also damage consumer electronics, destroying additional household wealth and productivity.
Two decades ago, Eskom had excess capacity and generated the cheapest electricity in the world. But the company was undermined over time by aggressive affirmative action policies that forced the departure of skilled engineers, and by “black economic empowerment” procurement policies that enriched a small group of corrupt, politically-connected entrepreneurs without delivering value to the company or to its consumers.
There is little hope for restoring Eskom’s capacity. The utility relies heavily on coal, which is abundant but has whose supply has also been affected by corruption that has accelerated the deterioration of the country’s rail networks, which are necessary to transport coal from the mine to the plant. Cape Town has launched an effort to develop its own power sources, focusing on abundant solar and wind energy, but completion is years away.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
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