Southern Africa: Mines Close as Energy Crises Spread

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South Africa and Zambia have been registering heavy losses in their Mining sector. With fears of miners getting trapped in the mines following ESKOM’s inability to guarantee a regular supply of energy, South African mining companies have decided to shut operations until a solution has been found.

The past two weeks have been marked by massive power cuts in the Southern African region. South Africa is experiencing a serious lack of spare capacity in electricity due to the government’s poor approach to the situation five years ago, when ESKOM demanded an increase in energy capacity for fear of future energy shortages following an electricity extension programme to mostly townships, that has presently seen a surge in general electricity coverage to about 71%. Thabo Mbeki claimed his government was to be held responsible, further explaining that they had not taken the demand seriously because they had not anticipated such shortages in energy.

Last week a power cut plunged various energy dependant countries into darkness for serveral hours. South Africans, who are quite not used to power outages, complained about energy exports to neighbouring countries forcing Eskom to review the 5% surplus (under normal circumstances) that has been feeding energy needs of their neighbours.

Zimbabwe imports 40% of its energy needs from South Africa and is the hardest hit. It is also believed that they have defaulted in payments.

The crises has also prompted Zambia to cut its supply to Zimbabwe, as reports indicate that the country’s copper industry has made losses running into millions of dollars.

Countries so far affected by the energy crises include; Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and of course South Africa.

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