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24 Hours Without Power: How a Total Blackout Impacted South Africa with Eskom


South Africa was recently subject to a total blackout with electricity utility company Eskom causing chaos and disruption for 24 hours. This power outage, the longest in South African history, had widespread economic and social implications affecting millions of people across the country. It highlighted energy security issues within our nation, forcing government bodies to address these pervasive gaps. In this article, we look at how the blackout impacted different sectors of South African society.

Context of the Power Blackout

The power blackout in South Africa begun on the evening of March 26, 2018, when a coal silo at Eskom’s Medupi Power Station collapsed causing an unplanned shutdown of four additional coal-fired generating units. This unexpected event caused a rapid worsening in already existing power shortages and ended up resulting in the complete loss of electricity for other parts of South Africa. As the country was thrown into darkness it had to contend with extensive losses from many sectors including industries, businesses and government services as well as disruption to daily life due to lack of transportation, communication and healthcare for 24 hours or more. The event not only provided insight into our dependence on energy but also showed how one incident can lead to serious damages until full restoration is achieved.

Day One

On Day One of the total blackout in South Africa, businesses and citizens were left with no power from Eskom. As a result of this disruption, chaos ensued throughout many parts of South Africa as people went without electricity and vital services came to an abrupt halt. Many basic tasks such as cooking, refrigeration, data management became nearly impossible due to lack of proper infrastructure. Furthermore, food spoilage increased significantly and prices for commodities skyrocketed due to limited supplies. It also disrupted essential government services that mandate reliable resources like transportation networks and hospitals. The effects spread far and wide with some citizens forced to resort to drastic measures by looking for generators or using their vehicles’ batteries while other more fortunate individuals could access alternate sources including renewable energy banks but these options proved hard-to-reach in rural areas where most needed it the most.

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Day Two

On Day Two of the South African blackout, there was still no reprieve in sight. With Eskom’s energy crisis deepened and its demand for electricity growing exponentially, millions of citizens continued to struggle without power.

Day Two saw a wave of fear sweep across the nation as schools and businesses had to remain closed due to lack of power. Essential services such as water supply chains were brought to a halt, leaving many with inadequate access clean drinking water and sanitation services – heightening concern over public health risks like diseases outbreaks. Although efforts made by some people took love amongst communities went some way towards helping those affected make it through this second night in darkness, the full impact of an extended outage remained yet unknown.

Day Three

On the third day of South Africa’s electricity blackout, Eskom warned its citizens to expect longer and more frequent outages in the future. The country was now facing prolonged power cuts due to a strained national grid caused by ageing infrastructure. The announcement sparked off nationwide alarm amongst those already inconvenienced by intermittent blackouts since Monday. Businesses estimated their losses while journalists interviewed everyday people on life without electricity. On social media, hashtags such as #EskomBlackout and #PowerlessSA trended with messages that alternated between frustration, humour and suggestions for ways to cope with the crisis at hand. Meanwhile, Eskom reaffirmed its commitment to restoring reliability while looking into alternative sources of energy too.

Day Four

On Day 4 of the total blackout in South Africa, Eskom declared that it had restored electricity to all affected areas. This marked a huge success after days of massive disruptions to homes and businesses due to the outage caused by an unprecedented crisis in South African grid systems. Although there is still much work to be done, this major accomplishment was celebrated as progress towards ending what has become known as “Eskom’s own sovereign debt crisis”. With its conventional power sources under significant strain, the nation now looks ahead towards finding new alternatives and lasting solutions for restoring best practices in energy management.

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Day Five

Day Five of South Africa’s blackout crisis was the darkest, yet. As Eskom continued to battle technical issues with their grid, businesses and homes across the country were still without electricity after five days in a row. Major cities had been particularly hard-hit by the power outage – Johannesburg and Cape Town had each gone almost 36 hours nonstop without any electricity. For many people living in rural areas, that number was closer to 48 or more. While severe disruptions affected everyday life all around South Africa, medical facilities, universities and other major hubs had also felt immense impacts from this energy crisis.

The effects of Day Five reverberated outside of South African borders; countries such as Zimbabwe made statements expressing concern over possible regional disruptions due to Eskom’s lagging efforts at getting the power back on across its main electricity distribution sites throughout various provinces. With no signs of light anytime soon – literally speaking – experts began to weigh in regarding what could have been done differently by both government agencies and private citizens alike in order to mitigate some damage caused by this dire situation?

Day Six

On Day Six of the major blackout in South Africa, Eskom was still struggling to restore power. People continued to cope with the lack of electricity, which included being unable to access basic amenities like running water and air conditioning. Businesses were also suffering greatly due to a lack of power supply, significantly disrupting operations and leading to economic impacts. The mood of the country remained tense as tensions between citizens and government flared up over who should take responsibility for the prolonged blackout. Despite all this, many South Africans exhibited tremendous resilience in finding alternate solutions while awaiting restoration from Eskom’s teams working around-the-clock.

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Day Seven

Day Seven of the electricity blackout in South Africa yielded yet another day-long interruption, with power only being restored late into the evening. Large parts of Gauteng, Northern Cape and Western Province were put under indefinite load shedding by Eskom for a second consecutive day. Businesses endured disruption as staff had to work through alternative means such as back-up generators or substitutes like laptops and mobile devices. Households, meanwhile, faced yet another frustrating day of darkness and uncertainty in their homes. All eyes are now on Day Eight to finally see an end to this crisis for South African citizens across the country who have been enduring daily outages since last week Sunday.


The recent incident of power blackout in South Africa caused by Eskom left a significant impact on the citizens of the country. The chaotic and devastating scenes demonstrated that despite having well established major networks, interruptions cannot be avoided. It is essential to have an effective system that can ensure suppleness in case of such crises for preventing further disruptions. Reliable backup power generation measures need to be adopted to mitigate statewide losses due to outages like this one. Various stakeholders should come together and develop a sustainable strategy focused on streamlining operational processes, enhance safety regulations, upgrade existing infrastructure and use renewable resources as critical components for ensuring electricity supply when it’s desperately needed.

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