Earlier today, we uncovered that Zimbabwe’s electricity utility had quietly upped load-shedding hours from an agonising 19 hours to an incredible 20 hours per day in a number of underserved areas. It appears that Zimbabweans are not the only ones experiencing power outages. Eskom, South Africa’s electricity company, has also announced that they will increase load-shedding from Stage 4 to Stage 6. South Africans have responded to this revetment with viral memes, caustic postings, and bitter resignation.

Stage 6 loadshedding will be implemented from 12:00 until further notice. This is due to a high number of breakdowns since midnight, as well as the requirement to strictly preserve the remaining emergency generation reserves. Eskom will publish a full statement in due course.

Eskom on Twitter

According to Eskom Stage 6 load shedding is the worst the country of South Africa has ever seen. In order to keep the power flowing throughout the country’s system, the sixth stage of load shedding necessitates a reduction in consumption of between 5000 MW and 6000 MW. In the event of a power outage, Eskom would have to initiate power cuts whenever they were necessary, regardless of when they were scheduled. However, stage 6 involves power outages that occur twice daily for four hours each, and last for a total of four days.

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Even though Zimbabwe’s politicians have sought to play down the power crisis in Zimbabwe seeking to compare it to Eskom’s woes there are marked differences:

  • Eskom actually announces increased or decreased load-shedding in advance as in this case
  • Eskom still bothers with preparing a schedule, ZESA just simply switches large swathes of the grid without informing anyone or bothering to prepare a schedule.
  • There is a method to ZESA’s madness, a lot of government higher-ups tend to be excluded from load-shedding. For the most part, Eskom spares no one without good reason.