South Africans struggle in the dark to cope with power cuts
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africans are struggling in the dark to cope with increased power cuts that have hit households and businesses across the country.
The rolling power cuts have been experienced for years but this week the country's state-owned power utility Eskom extended them so that some residents and businesses have gone without power for more than nine hours a day.
A strike by Eskom workers added to the utility's woes including breakdowns of its ageing coal-fired power plants, insufficient generation capacity and corruption, according to experts.
The prolonged power cuts are hitting South Africans in the winter months of the Southern Hemisphere when many households rely on electricity for heat, light and cooking.
Small and large businesses have had to close down for prolonged periods or spend large amounts on diesel fuel to operate generators.
Anger and frustration are widespread among business owners and customers at the power cuts, which Eskom calls load shedding.
The power blackouts are here to stay say experts who warn it will take years to substantially increase South Africa's capacity to generate power.
The power cuts are costing South Africa well over $40 million per day and deterring investment, say economists.
South Africa's economy, Africa's most developed, is already in recession and is suffering a 35% unemployment rate.
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