S Africa’s Ramaphosa skips Davos because of power crisis at home

Repeated power cuts have become common in South Africa in the last decade as state utility Eskom continues to struggle.

President Cyril Ramaphosa
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a speech at the Houses of Parliament during a state visit, in London, UK, November 22, 2022 [Toby Melville/Reuters]

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will not be attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos due to the ongoing energy crisis in the country, his spokesman said on Sunday.

Power cuts have worsened since Tuesday when struggling state utility Eskom, which generates more than 90 percent of the country’s power, said it would implement its worst-ever outages until further notice.

In the last decade, the power cuts have become a major source of public frustration with the governing African National Congress (ANC), and a brake on economic growth in Africa’s most industrialised nation.

“Currently the President is convening a meeting with leaders of political parties represented in parliament, NECCOM [National Energy Crisis Committee] and the Eskom board,” Vincent Magwenya, presidential spokesman said.

He added that further briefings with key stakeholders will take place in the coming week.

The beleaguered utility supplies the vast majority of South Africa’s electricity, relying mainly on an ageing fleet of coal-fired power stations that are unreliable and prone to faults.

Eskom has also had to deal with strikes by its workforce, including most recently in June after negotiations with trade unions including the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa broke down.

The loss-making utility, saddled with a huge debt pile approaching 400 billion rand ($25bn), is trying to contain costs as part of turnaround efforts under Chief Executive Andre de Ruyter.

Source: News Agencies