Experts are warning that South Africa is in the grip of an energy crisis as persistent and constant electricity blackouts are expected to reach a critical stage.
This comes as winter arrives in the Southern Hemisphere which is sending energy demand soaring.
The crisis has worsened over the past 12 months, with the country spared the debilitating rolling blackouts, known as load shedding, only on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and a handful of other occasions.
Over the past 15 years, South Africa’s electricity crisis has been deepening, with power shortages blamed on insufficient investments in the country’s ageing coal-fired power plants.
To manage the shortfalls, the state-owned power company Eskom imposes daily scheduled rationing to cope with the production shortfalls.
But more recently the power cuts have lengthened, and many people are forced to endure blackouts of up to 12 hours a day.
Under pressure to end the power cuts, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared in February a National State of Disaster, a legal move introduced to prioritise efforts to address the problem.
He also appointed an electricity minister, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, with the sole task of ending the blackouts.
But Analysts say Ramokgopa, a civil engineer and former mayor of Pretoria, has run into a series of obstacles.
The South African winter, which runs from June to August, can get cold, with temperatures plunging below zero degrees Celsius (in some areas and Ramokgopa has already warned people to brace for a dark and cold winter.