South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma says a controversial nuclear deal that was defeated by a legal challenge from environmentalists could have prevented the ongoing power crisis.
Eskom supplies more than 90 percent of the power in South Africa, has implemented eight straight days of nationwide electricity cuts on Friday to prevent the national grid from collapsing.
The power shortages are attributed to repeated faults at Eskom’s coal-fired power stations, including two new mega power stations which are underperforming.
The fact of the matter is nuclear could solve our problems, once and for all.
Zuma’s nuclear ‘silver bullet’
In an interview with local Business Day news site, Zuma said if the ambitious nuclear deal had been approved, South Africa would have spent trillions of rands to solve the country’s energy problems.
‘‘The fact of the matter is nuclear could solve our problems, once and for all. Now we are in deep, we are therefore increasing the debt of the country with no hope to bring it down. That’s a problem,” Zuma said.
Zuma’s plan to build eight nuclear plants, with the support of Russia and other countries at an estimated cost of around 1 trillion rand ($76bn), was deemed too expensive, and inflated by corrupt elements within his government.
South Africa currently has one nuclear plant.
Relief from Mozambique
Meanwhile, president Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday announced that Eskom will get an additional 900 megawatts of power from Mozambique after power lines damaged by Cyclone Idai were restored.
South Africa’s power crisis had been worsened on Saturday after Eskom lost its electricity imports from the Cahora Bassa hydroelectric system in Mozambique, which contributes more than 1,000 MW to the South African grid, after a powerful cyclone.
“The minister of public enterprises has reported that they were able to revive and restore the power line from Cahora Bassa. So we will have an additional 900 megawatts,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.
Cyclone Idai battered Mozambique’s Beira, a low-lying port city of 500,000 residents, with strong winds and torrential rains last week, before moving inland to neighboring Zimbabwe, where it flattened homes and flooded communities, and Malawi.