FRIDAY BRIEFING | Eskom's death spiral: Can the grid survive?

Friday Briefing

Eskom's death spiral: Can the grid survive?

If you want to get an idea of just how bad our electricity crisis is getting, consider the data from EskomSePush app. The creators have been tracking load shedding since 2015. The Outlier has taken that data and illustrated it in a load shedding tracker to show how much we are in the dwang.  

There were 97 days of load shedding in 2015. None in 2016 and 2017. In 2020, things took a slight dive with 54 days of load shedding. 2022 was the worst year so far on record, with 208 days of load shedding, and it looks like 2023 will be no better. We have already had 19 days of load shedding this month, compared to this time last year, when there was no load shedding in January (our least busiest month). 

If you thought there was light at the end of this tunnel, you would be wrong, even though promises were made when the crisis first reared its head that load shedding would be tackled within 18 months. That never happened. And as the crisis worsens, promises continue to be made. And it will all probably come down to the same result - more darkness. 

Opposition parties and law firms have decided to take the route of the courts to try to bring about an end to load shedding. But as analyst Steven Friedman writes in his subscriber-only Against the Tide column, "it is hard to see what this will achieve besides confirming that the political class sees lawsuits as the solution to all problems". In his News24 column this week, Mpumelelo Mkhabela also questions why an issue of such immense public interest requires a court order. He writes that Parliament should do its work and summon the information from President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In this week's edition of Friday Briefing, we consider if there is any way we can avoid Armageddon or even if there is any political will to get out of the mess. 

News24's Kyle Cowan takes a look at three things that could get us out of load shedding quicker.

Business Leadership's Busisiwe Mavuso and Business Unity South Africa's Cas Coovadia and the Energy Council of SA's James McKay consider the implications of continuous load shedding on struggling businesses that have just gotten over the Covid pandemic. And the DA's energy spokesperson Kevin Mileham tells us how his party would deal with the crisis if it were in charge.

We hope you have lights to read this edition as it is an important one. 


Vanessa Banton

Opinions editor.


3 things to be done today to help fix Eskom and bring load shedding to an end faster

Eskom has major problems that can be succinctly categorised into three crisis points: time, money and generation capacity. While it's easy to criticise, the reality is that the utility is not being given the right help. Here are three things that need to change today to help Eskom fix itself, and end loadshedding faster, writes Kyle Cowan.

It's not an Eskom crisis, it's a crisis of political will

None of the measures proposed to end load shedding will have an immediate impact even if implemented quickly. The real problem to date is simply a lack of political will, writes Busisiwe Mavuso.

Eskom breakdown: Allow local solutions for industry and municipalities

It is now undeniable that Eskom is in a death spiral, that has been aided and abetted by an incompetent ANC. DA spokesperson on energy, Kevin Mileham, outlines what his party would do, if it were faced with the same crisis.

Ramaphosa said load shedding would be over in 18 months - in 2015. Here are 9 other dud pledges

"There will never be any load shedding!" "You will forget the challenges with [Eskom] ever happened." "It will take us six to 12 months to solve this issue." We heard it in 2015. Then again in 2016. Then again in 2019. Then again in 2023. The promises to end load shedding would be laughable if they weren't so dangerous, says Marelise van der Merwe.

Eskom crisis: Economic damage is a disaster in the making

It is estimated that prolonged stage 6 load shedding wipes out approximately R4 billion from the gross domestic product each day, far surpassing the economic impact of Covid-19, write Cas Coovadia and James McKay.

Electricity catastrophe: Bleak future on cards for battered small businesses

Without question, there is no period of our democratic history that has ever been less preferable or conducive for small businesses development until now, writes Tebogo Khaas as he reflects on South Africa's electricity crisis.

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