Power restored in South Africa as energy emergency ends

Notice reading Power Cuts Sweep South Africa on street There have not been widespread power cuts in South Africa since 2008

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South Africa's power emergency was lifted on Thursday night, said state power company Eskom.

The firm, which provides 95% of the nation's electricity, had imposed rolling blackouts during the day.

The company had earlier said that heavy rains had made much of the coal used at power stations too wet to burn.

Industrial customers had been asked to cut energy usage by at least 10%. Big firms switched to generators, but many smaller enterprises had no back-up.

After seven days of rain there are expectations of more blackouts on Friday.

Eskom tweeted on Wednesday; "As we experience load-shedding, customers can expect two to four hours of power outages at a time."

Emergency

While it is the third time an energy emergency has been announced in the past two weeks, there have not been widespread blackouts since 2008.

At that time, factories and mines were forced to close, leading to a credit ratings downgrade for South Africa, a sell-off of the currency, the rand, and an outflow of investment.

Years of underinvestment have left Eskom struggling to meet energy demand, which is expected to double over the next 15 years.

It is building three new coal-fired stations. However, one of these, Medupi, which should have opened in December, is falling behind schedule because of disputes with contractors and labour unions.

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