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South Africans seek solutions as Eskom’s lights continue to dim

South Africans seek solutions as Eskom’s lights continue to dim

Jan 12, 2015

Having confirmed on Friday 9 January 2015 that its financial issues were “partly responsible for the country’s rolling blackouts”, South African power supplier Eskom is reportedly in financial dire straits and only has enough funds to last until around mid February.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said that Eskom spent R1 billion a month on diesel to keep the lights on as its ageing infrastructure is serviced. Colin Cruywagen, spokesman for Brown, confirmed that Eskom had sufficient funding only until the end of the month.

However, reports on Monday 12 January suggest that Eskom says it expects government to make about R20-billion available in financial relief, even while Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene says the parastatal must sort out its problems “because they are hurting the economy”.

According to a report by ewn.co.za, Eskom’s Khulu Phasiwe says the cash injection from government is needed to maintain operational stability. “The R20 billion is for the general operations at Eskom. Remember we are building three new power stations and it will also assist in daily operations, like the acquisition of diesel and other things.”

DA energy spokesman Lance Greyling has was reported as saying that Eskom spent “nearly R11bn on diesel to keep the lights on, now government is saying we can’t keep on with this. It’s going to be a tough year for energy. We’re in a mess. Government should be trying to bring on all other sources of energy – gas, renewables and co-generation projects. These can be brought on in relatively short times, 18 months to two years.”

Amid fears of continuing and extensive lead-shedding, South African consumers are scrambling for solutions that will enable them to keep their own homes running, as most people return to work this week and pressure on the grid is expected to rise. Many suppliers of generators, inverters, gas cylinders and battery-operated lamps have seen a massive rise in sales since load-shedding began in earnest late last year.

Still, inexpensive solar solutions for homes remain out of reach financially for many South Africans, leaving a gap in the market for providers who have the capacity to fill these requirements.

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