South Africa’s economic growth will shrink by at least 1.1 percentage points in 2019 and there will be up to 125,000 job losses if nationwide electricity blackouts persist throughout the year, the central bank said on Wednesday.
Ailing state utility Eskom switched out the lights across the country in February and March as low coal supplies, a severe cash crunch, and multiple failures at its ageing fleet of power stations throttled supply.
The debt laden state firm began by cutting supply by 1,000 megawatts before ramping up to 4,000 MW, leaving households in the dark and businesses across mining, manufacturing and retail unable to operate.
“Should these interruptions continue throughout 2019, it is likely to reduce growth by 1.1 percentage points,” the Reserve bank said in its Monetary Policy Review publication, the second for the year.
The review dimmed hopes for the economic rebound promised by President Cyril Ramaphosa and comes less than a month before national elections.