South Africa’s Eskom warned of wider controlled power cuts on Monday after six additional generating units unexpectedly went offline, underscoring troubles at the struggling state power utility and sending the rand currency lower.
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan would meet executives of the company over the crisis, an Eskom spokesman said, as the firm prepared to cut 4 000 megawatts of power from the national grid from 1100 GMT likely until 2000 GMT.
The rand currency fell to its weakest in almost three weeks following the news, down 0.94% as of 1210 GMT at 13.7375 per dollar.
The cash-strapped utility, which supplies more than 90% of the country’s electricity power, was also forced to cut power for a sustained period in late November and early December, also due to a shortage of generating capacity.
Eskom, which employs 48 000 people, is a cornerstone of Africa’s most developed economy but has racked up debts of $31 billion.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a plan last week to avert Eskom’s economic collapse but is facing opposition from powerful labour unions and from within his ruling African National Congress.
Ramaphosa’s plan to split Eskom into three entities would do little to address its financial difficulties, ratings agency Moody’s said on Monday.
“The move paves the way for a more transparent group with more clearly allocated revenue and cost between business segments,” Moody’s said, but added that Eskom remained a significant risk to the country’s fiscal strength.
Date: 11 February 2019
— Eskom Hld SOC Ltd (@Eskom_SA) February 11, 2019