South Africa Needs Better Security to Stop Power Supply Sabotage

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa recently outlined plans to solve the country's devastating electricity supply crisis. But he didn't mention the country's ability to protect its energy infrastructure as a prerequisite to any solution, write Sascha-Dominik (Dov) Bachmann and Dries Putter for The Conversation.

South Africa has had power cuts since 2007 when Eskom, the power utility, began failing to meet demand. This got worse every year. The power utility is struggling to keep its aged coal-fired power stations running after many years of poor maintenance. It is also struggling to get its two new power stations to operate at full capacity.

Enhanced intelligence capacities are required to detect, deter and neutralise threats such as sabotage, or subversion caused by rioting. More - and appropriately equipped - security forces are also needed to physically secure critical infrastructure. These could be privately or publicly funded.

The Institute for Security Studies argues that attacks on the critical infrastructure of developing countries, such as South Africa, could be "potentially devastating". South Africa's national security vulnerabilities, combined with the security risks to a monolithic state-owned entity with no backup, could exacerbate the country's power supply insecurities.

InFocus

Eskom's national control centre (file photo).

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