As South Africa struggles with severe electricity shortages, a state of emergency has been declared.
President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the emergency measure on Thursday during a state-of-the-nation address.
“Extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures. Ramaphosa stated that the energy crisis poses a serious threat to both our economy and our social fabric.
This happens as people in South Africa are subject to rolling power cuts that can last up to eight hours per day. Businesses and factories also affected.
Eskom, the country’s power company is unable produce enough power because of frequent breakdowns at its old coal-fired power plants.
These stations produce little more than half of their capacity, with power demand constantly outstripping supply.
Eskom warned South Africans to expect long periods of power outages and has been rolling out a policy of blackouts it calls “load-shedding”.
How South Africa’s planned power cuts can put lives at risk
South Africa had previously established a state of emergency to address the CoVID-19 pandemic that began in 2020, and the subsequent deadly floods that claimed more than 400 lives last year.
Ramaphosa claims that the declaration will allow his government to exempt vital services like hospitals and water treatment plants, from blackouts.
Ramaphosa stated that it will allow the government to buy additional power from neighboring countries in an emergency and make diesel-powered generators more widely available.
Ramaphosa also announced the state of emergency and appoints an electricity minister to address the crisis.