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South Africa: Lights Out, Books Open!

In a stark reality check, Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, has addressed the nation’s concerns about load shedding coinciding with the start of Matric final exams.

While the lights dim across the nation and 800,000 learners sit their final year exams, there’s a simple truth: excluding schools and exam centres from rolling blackouts is an impractical feat.

Load shedding, a manual process at Eskom, involves technicians physically cutting the power. This means that when the lights go out, entire towns and villages are plunged into darkness. There’s no magic switch to isolate a school without affecting the surrounding communities.

Minister Ramokgopa expressed the plain reality: it’s just not feasible.

However, Eskom has come up with a plan to extend the hours of stable supply during the day and resume load shedding after 4 pm.

This is only possible if there are no further breakdowns of generating units from its ageing fleet of coal fired generators.

“Load shedding will be suspended from 5 am until 4 pm. Stage 2 load shedding will resume from 4 pm until 5 am on Tuesday.

“This pattern of suspending load shedding during the day and implementing Stage 2 load shedding during the evening peak will be repeated daily until further notice,” the company said on Sunday.

During his weekly update on the state of the grid, Ramokgopa said Eskom dropped the ball, resulting in a major shortage of power supply even during the weekend, when major industries were closed.

Ramokgopa said he would once again do a tour of all the power stations. “We have done exceptionally well over a period of three months and I think the ball was dropped here,” said Ramokgopa.

He said the first shipment of generators donated by the government of China has arrived.

“We are going to deploy these at various clinics. The major beneficiary of that work is going to be the Department of Health,” the minister said.

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