As South Africans brace for a sixth consecutive day of load-shedding, SA’s already very tepid growth forecast for 2019 faces significant risks. Load-shedding, which is implemented to stabilise the grid when demand exceeds supply, began on Sunday and is expected to last for at least the rest of the week as neglected maintenance of power plants has led to breakdowns. On Monday, Eskom’s operational crisis deepened, forcing it to shed 4,000MW — the biggest load it has dropped — to keep the grid stable. This means that about 40% of Eskom’s fleet was unavailable to generate electricity. The embattled power utility is in a deep financial crisis, with a more than R419bn debt that it is unable to service from its own revenue. It is acknowledged as the single biggest risk to SA’s economy by the National Treasury, credit ratings agencies, and the investment community. The metric used to calculate the loss to the economy is called the cost of undelivered energy, which determines how much it cos...

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