By Chad Williams for IOL
“We regret to inform you that load shedding Stage 2 will be implemented from 12pm today until Sunday evening. More information to follow shortly.”
If you live in South Africa, the above statement is enough to drive you up the wall. South Africans have been living with rolling blackouts for nearly 15 years.
A recent video of a rugby match in South Africa went viral, and not for the action on the field, but rather for the reaction of South African sports commentators shouting, “load shedding, load shedding”, after the stadium was thrown into darkness.
I have always wondered: Are we as South Africans the only African country battling with almost daily rolling blackouts, which not only disrupt our day-to-day activities, hurts our already battered economy, but also causes an entire nation to live in a constant state of stress?
To my surprise, other African countries are also waking up to darkness. The consensus is that Africa needs power now more than ever.
Botswana is also dealing with a debilitating power crisis.
According to icafrica.org, Botswana’s need for electricity grew rapidly during the 1980s and 1990s as a result of fast economic expansion.
The country’s power now comes from the Morupule A power station, which has capacity of 118MW and was completed in 1989. Botswana can also generate about 160MW from diesel, but this is expensive. Peak demand is estimated at over 600MW, so it is reliant on imports, mainly from South Africa.
Zimbabwe and Zambia
According to a 2019 Business Tech report, rolling electricity blackouts lasting 18 hours a day have choked the two economies.
Ballooning debt has left them unable to afford to import enough power to help cushion shortages.
Even if they could, the region’s biggest supplier, Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., doesn’t have enough capacity to keep the lights on in its home market, South Africa.
In Ghana, dumsor, which loosely translated means ‘off and on’, is a persistent, irregular, and unpredictable electric power outage.
The frequent Ghanaian blackouts are caused by power supply shortage. Ghanaian generating capacity by 2015 was 400-600 megawatts, less than Ghana needed.
Namibia’s electricity generation has dropped to below 40% of its capacity as the worst drought in almost a century has hit the country’s own hydropower plant and others in the region reliant on water from dams and rivers, writes Reuters.
An ongoing drought, plus power blackouts at South Africa’s power company Eskom, on which Namibia relies for 70% of its energy requirements, has put the security of the country’s electricity supply at risk.
Mozambique is a resource-rich energy hub, yet rural community access to electricity remains low, and urban centres suffer poor service quality, writes Science Direct.
According to research by Science Direct, an estimated 57% of African households and businesses experience electricity reliability issues such as frequent, unpredictable power outages lasting for hours or days.
Some countries with the largest electricity access deficit, such as Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique, experience at least one power outage per week.