SOLLY MSIMANGA | Practical solutions to lessen power cuts, boost economy

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The 1994 elections were a turning point for all residents of this country. The dream of a system where all our people are equal before the law had now become reality.

 When the ruling party took over the governance of SA, promises were made to ensure that every citizen had access to basic services like water, healthcare, education and electricity.

The dream of having reliable access to electricity came tumbling down in 2007, when everyone was suddenly left without electricity because the electrical grid had collapsed and Eskom,  along with the ruling party, had failed to look into alternate ways of building new power stations. This is despite warnings by energy industry experts in the late 1990s that the electrical grid will not be able to meet the demand in the future.

To manage this crisis, Eskom, with the help of municipalities, has for the past 17 years implemented load shedding. For at least two hours a day, whether you are a small restaurant, school, or household or even police station, you would be without electricity. We were lectured that this was to help reduce  pressure on the ailing electrical grid.

However, what was not considered was that substations and transformers were not meant to be switched on and off, as is currently the case. In Gauteng, many areas can go without electricity for a day or more when load shedding is implemented. This is because a substation that was been switched off and then put back on has tripped or its cables were stolen during load shedding, leading to an extended electricity outage.

While load shedding during this time only had four stages, it became evident by 2018 that demand for electricity was increasing far more quickly than anticipated and more pressure was put on Eskom. Suddenly, residents and businesses are subjected to much higher stages of load shedding and longer hours of electricity outages. 

 Load shedding and the lack of water mean that the economic hub of the country is taking a brutal beating. This has resulted in many job losses and many small businesses, particularly those that operate in the township economy, having to close their doors.

This dire state was revealed in a reply to our questions tabled in the Gauteng provincial legislature that indicated that during 2022, more than 300,000 job opportunities were lost due to the ongoing load shedding. About R103m in potential gross domestic product  was also lost during this time. In 2022, Gauteng experienced a total of 3,212 hours of load shedding.

For the past five years, the current government has promised that measures are being put in place to ensure that this province becomes less reliant on Eskom. A solar farm in Merafong was supposed to be built, and this would at least provide some relief from the never-ending rolling blackouts.

Last year, Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi said load shedding would come to an end in the province by the end of January 2024. We are now in April and Gauteng residents are still experiencing load shedding.

 The DA has a plan to fix the  electricity crisis and make this province less dependent on Eskom. Our plan has clear timelines on when and how independent power producers (IPPs) will be brought on board to provide additional electricity that can be fed into the grid.

 The first step to lessening the impact of load shedding is by generating additional electricity through partnerships with IPPs and incentivising solar panel installation for consumers through tax breaks negotiated with the SA Revenue Service. In addition,  we will provide an uninterrupted supply of electricity by buying back excess electricity generated by consumers. This can be fed back into the grid, making more electricity available.

These are just a few practical solutions that we will use to improve the supply of electricity in Gauteng.  Until that happens, this province will continue to lose valuable revenue that can help improve investor confidence and grow the economy. 


  • Msimanga is DA Gauteng premier candidate

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