Mon | Feb 24, 2020

South Africa seeks more renewable energy amid power cuts

Published:Thursday | February 13, 2020 | 4:40 PM
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his State of the Nation Address in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, February 13, 2020. (Sumaya Hisham/Pool Photo via AP)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s president said Thursday the coal-dependent country will turn to more renewable energy as one way to help ease power cuts that have “severely set back” efforts to rebuild the weak economy.

But he warned of more blackouts in the immediate future.

South Africans have been outraged by rolling power cuts in the current mid-summer that also have worried investors.

The country relies on coal for some 77% of power needs, according to the department of energy, and some citizens were astounded when officials blamed “wet coal” in part for the blackouts.

The outages are just the latest grievance in a country with 29% unemployment, widespread corruption and certain state-owned companies teetering on the edge of collapse.

The economy is estimated to grow by less than 1% this year, and more than half of young people are without jobs.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech was delayed by an hour and a half as lawmakers with the populist Economic Freedom Fighters party told him to sit down and argued that the public enterprises minister, Pravin Gordhan, should step down.

“We can’t gather like normal here when things are abnormal,” EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi called out.

Party members later walked out of the chamber.

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