‘Load shedding’ in South Africa leaves city in the dark

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — “Load shedding,” the practice of blackouts controlled by state-owned energy company Eskom, continues to plague South Africa and was captured in an early morning video on Wednesday.

The video, filmed at 4:07 am, shows the exact moment when power is cut to customers in the Urban Square office park at the Century City mall – and when private generators kick in, restoring most of the electricity.

Power in Century City is distributed by the City of Cape Town, which in turn gets power from Eskom. The city has its own additional hydroelectric generation capacity at the Steenbras dam, which helps alleviate electricity shortages. Water is pumped into the dam when power is available and then run down through hydroelectric turbines during periods of electricity shortages to add additional generating capacity.

Load shedding affects millions of residents and businesses. Large companies typically install diesel-powered generators; some wealthy families install batteries or solar panels to compensate for electricity outages. But for millions of people – especially the poor – the impact is tremendous. And when power is restored, electricity spikes can also damage consumer electronics, destroying additional household productivity and wealth.

Two decades ago, Eskom had excess capacity and generated the cheapest electricity in the world. But the company has been crippled over time by aggressive affirmative action policies that forced out qualified engineers and by “black economic empowerment” acquisition policies that enriched a small group of corrupt and politically connected businessmen without adding value to the company or to its consumers.

There is little hope of restoring Eskom’s capacity. The concessionaire relies heavily on coal, which is plentiful but whose supply has also been affected by corruption that has accelerated the deterioration of the country’s rail networks, needed to transport coal from the mine to the plant. Cape Town has launched an effort to develop its own energy sources, focusing on abundant solar and wind power, but completion is years away.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor General of Breitbart News and host of Breitbart News Sunday at Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday nights from 7 pm to 10 pm ET (4 pm to 7 pm PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, you are out of order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free Nor Fair: The 2020 US Presidential Election. He is the recipient of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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