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The History of Eskom Load Shedding: From the Past to the Present

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Eskom Load Shedding is an electricity supply technique used by Eskom, a South African public utility. It involves reducing or stopping the distribution of electricity to some parts of the country in order to balance out the demand and ensure continued access to power. Its history dates back to 2008 when Eskom implemented the first planned power cuts due to a severe electricity shortfall caused by rapid economic growth and a lack of investment in infrastructure upgrades. Since then, Eskom has had regularly scheduled load shedding episodes every year, with periods of extended blackouts occurring in 2020 as well. Through improved energy efficiency measures and ongoing investments in new power plants, Eskom aims to reduce its reliance on load shedding going forward.

Causes of Load Shedding

Eskom, South Africa’s state-owned power utility, began load shedding in 2008 due to electricity supply constraints. This was caused by a combination of factors including increasing demand for electricity and problems with Eskom’s ageing power plants. In response to the energy crisis, Eskom implemented measures such as national energy conservation campaigns and increased generation capacity.

Origins of Load Shedding in South Africa

Load shedding was first implemented in South Africa in the 1980s. The main objective of load shedding at that time was to manage electricity demand and supply, as the country’s electricity capacity had become insufficient to meet prevailing demands. This resulted in power outages in parts of the country.

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Pre-Eskom Load Shedding

Before Eskom came into existence, there was no load shedding in South Africa. Instead, businesses and homes generated their own electricity using small generators or other means. This did not provide a reliable source of power, however, and many homes and businesses experienced blackouts.

Introduction of Eskom Load Shedding

In 2008, Eskom introduced load shedding to South Africa for the first time. This was a response to their inability to meet the country’s electricity demands due to a lack of capacity. Eskom used its emergency reserve power sources to reduce the demand on their system by splitting it into different stages, each with its own set of restrictions and loadshedding periods.

Expansion of Eskom Load Shedding Nationally

In 2008, Eskom expanded its load shedding efforts nationally. The power utility announced that it would implement “Stage 1” which involved cutting electricity supply for two hours at a time, twice a day in all nine provinces of South Africa.

Eskom’s Recent Load Shedding Practices

In recent years, Eskom has implemented a number of different load shedding practices to manage the demand on its electric grid. This includes implementing rolling blackouts which involve rotating power cuts in different areas throughout the day and night; partial load shedding which involves a reduction in electricity supply for certain periods of the day; and lastly, selective outages, where power is only cut to specific customers or neighborhoods. These methods help Eskom to ensure that electricity is available consistently and efficiently.

Public Reactions to Eskom Load Shedding

Eskom’s load shedding has been met with public frustration and criticism since its inception in 2008. In 2014, following repeated outages, South African citizens launched the #PowerOutageSA hashtag on Twitter to voice their displeasure and anger at Eskom. The resulting outcry prompted government officials to discuss plans of diversifying the country’s energy sources. Public reactions to Eskom’s continued load shedding have ranged from community protests to calls for national energy reform. In 2020, during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Eskom again implemented rolling blackouts across South Africa – much to the public’s outrage. Activists took matters into their own hands and organized demonstrations against Eskom’s failure to provide adequate electricity services. This increased attention pushed politicians once more towards finding lasting solutions for South Africa’s ongoing struggles with electricity supply issues and sparked discussions on renewable energy sources and independent power producers as alternatives to Eskom’s aging infrastructure.

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Solutions to Eskom Load Shedding

In 2006, Eskom implemented a process known as Load Shedding in South Africa in order to manage the demand for electricity. During this time, electricity was rationed for certain hours of the day.

In 2009, Eskom increased their capacity by building new power plants and adopted improved maintenance protocols.

Today, Eskom is making an effort to reduce load shedding through investments in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind; upgrades to the transmission lines and distribution network; and improvements to existing power plants.

They are also encouraging customers to use less electricity by offering incentives such as discounts on bills and energy efficiency audits. In addition, they are partnering with other countries like Mozambique that can supply additional power during peak times. These solutions have helped minimize the impact of load shedding on South Africans.


Eskom’s load shedding has evolved over the years in response to changes in the power demand and supply balance. Today, it is a popularly utilized tool used by Eskom to manage its electricity grids by controlling and managing electricity consumption. By taking measures such as engaging with citizens and introducing rigourous maintenance plans, Eskom is working hard to ensure that load shedding will become less and less frequent in South Africa.

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