Africa News blog

African business, politics and lifestyle

Flashlights or a blackout-free soccer bonanza?

September 18, 2009


South Africa’s power utility Eskom has assured the world it will keep the lights on during the FIFA World Cup next year.

But many wonder if they can trust the assurances after the country’s national grid came to a near standstill last year, forcing mines and smelters to shut and costing the biggest economy in Africa billions of dollars.

Eskom’s new power investments are not supposed to kick in until well after the cup next year, and occasional power cuts still make the headlines in the country’s media as the system continues to be tight, despite some temporary relief given the economic slowdown.

According to FIFA regulations, all stadiums will be powered using generators, but the utility still plans to secure a buffer of 2,000 MW – enough to power a city – for the duration of the event.

Twelve utilities from neighbouring countries have committed to support Eskom during the month-long event, either by providing back-up power or by reducing their own consumption and easing congestion on the regional transmission lines.

All to ensure that the world’s biggest soccer bonanza, held in Africa for the first time, is blackout-free.

Some critics wonder if it will be enough to power the host cities, once thousands of  fans flock  into South Africa ’s towns and tourist hubs come June next year.

Eskom officials say they have learnt from past mistakes and ask everyone not to get stuck on images of soccer players running around with flashlights in their hands.

You might not  have to put one in your luggage, but some may still feel the need to be prepared

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