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Eskom’s 2020 Load Shedding Woes In One Simple Chart

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What you’re looking at above are power lines.

As Dale Kerrigan says in The Castle, the iconic Australian comedy, power lines are a reminder of man’s ability to generate electricity.

Or rather, they should be, but here in South Africa, things don’t always operate as planned.

It seems unbelievable that after in excess of a decade of knowing our country’s power utility is crumbling, and countless politicians speaking out about tides turning and steps being taken, we’re in the midst of the worst load shedding year yet.

But here we are, and a chart published recently by the SA Reserve Bank (SARB) shows that despite all the talk of repairs being carried out during lockdown, we’re worse off than ever.

Here’s the graph the SA Reserve Bank shared on Twitter, along with this text:

SA has experienced its worst load shedding this year, with total gigawatt hours shed surpassing the 2019 record in Aug. Cumulative shedding for 2020 is already 23% worse than 2019 – even though real GDP is currently about 9% lower than it was this time in 2019.

See that red line? It’s very bad news:

Put simply, the total gigawatt hours shed has already passed the 2019 record, and had done so by the end of August, despite the fact that the stricter lockdown alert levels curtailed huge parts of the economy from operating at full capacity.

At least in Cape Town, thanks to the City’s Steenbras Pumped Storage Plant, we’re usually one load shedding stage lower than the rest of the country.

For a little trip down memory lane, here’s MyBroadband with a look at some of Eskom’s load shedding promises over the years:

July 2013 – “No more load-shedding, we are confident” – Eskom CEO Brian Dames

March 2014 – “Load-shedding is temporary” – Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa

December 2014 – “There is no power crisis at Eskom” – Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona

September 2015 – “In two years, you will forget these problems ever happened” – then-deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa

May 2016 – “We will never have load-shedding again” – President Jacob Zuma

The list goes on, and on, and on – you can delve deeper here.

You only need to listen to Suzanne Daniels’ testimony at the Zondo Commission recently to figure out why we are in this situation today.

And yet, all of those involved continue to walk free.