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By Getrude Makhafola

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Load shedding ‘won’t end this year,’ says Ramokgopa as he announces timelines

R30 billion has been set aside to procure diesel for the winter season.

Power outages will not end this year, despite the governing African National Congress (ANC) promising that Eskom load shedding will come to an end by December.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula‘s remarks in January that power outages will stop in December were thrown out the window by Electricity Minister Kgosientsho ‘Sputla’ Ramokgopa on Saturday.

ALSO READ: After 15 years, ANC taking ‘decisive action’ to end load shedding by December

“I would want to sit here and tell the country that load shedding will end tomorrow, unfortunately, that’s not possible.

“It is also not technically possible to end load shedding by the end of the 2023 calendar year, and that’s why we are at pains to illustrate the kind of steps that we are taking to ensure it is not as severe and keep the economy going,” he told reporters during a press briefing on the sidelines of the ANC’s NEC meeting.

R30 billion for diesel part of plan

The ongoing NEC meeting has agreed on a two-part immediate “intervention” to ease load shedding as winter nears.

WATCH: Increased load shedding no reason to fear grid collapse, says Eskom

Ramokgopa said government has budgeted R30 billion to spend on diesel during winter for its open cycle turbines, as the loss of capacity caused by breakdowns at coal-powered stations persists.

The first timeline is for winter power demand, where the ANC government has set a six-month deadline to “immediately” ensure power availability.

“The zero to six months deadline is receiving special attention because demand will exceed supply in winter, and we, therefore, need to employ extraordinary measures to cushion the economy.

“This must be done immediately, we want to ensure homes and industries continue to operate so that the economy doesn’t collapse.”

Plans are also afoot to negotiate directly with diesel suppliers to “stretch the rand” and cut costs, he added.

Priority power stations

The other target is a six to 18-month plan that includes procuring new energy and tackling problems at problematic power stations such as Medupi and Kusile.

“For the 6-18 month target, we will make sure to procure new energy. Eskom is in negotiations to add 1000MW from Mozambique.

“We plan to add a minimum 12 000 additional MW in the next 6-18 months,” said the minister.

Asked about allegations that power generation was being privatised, Ramokgopa said the private sector has been asked to help with skills and expertise, but that it is only Eskom that tackles all electricity matters.

The ANC NEC meeting started on Friday in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni, and will conclude on Sunday.

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