Eskom Loadshedding Crisis Highlights Critical Skills Shortage



South Africans have been subjected to more than 1600 hours of continuous loadshedding so far this year. And while the government has announced plans to end the rolling blackouts, loadshedding will be around for the next 24 months at least. 



On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on the national energy crises. Loadshedding not only inconveniences the lives of citizens, but also has an impact on their livelihoods.

South Africa has installed capacity to produce around 46,000 MW of electricity, and at peak times the country uses around 32,000 MW of electricity. However, only 60% of this installed capacity is available at any given time due to planned maintenance and others having unplanned outages.

Ramaphosa said that one of the challenges facing Eskom was a lack of skilled personnel and engineers. The power utility is reportedly working to recruit skilled personnel, including former senior Eskom plant managers and engineers from the private sector.

The president said this will help to ensure that world-class operating and maintenance procedures are reinstated at Eskom.

Engineering Council of South Africa Acting CEO, Edmund Nxumalo says the council has around 34,000 engineering graduates sitting in the council's pool across different disciplines.

To join the engineering council, an engineering student who graduated with a bachelor's degree must register with the council.

Once these students are registered with the SA engineering council, they will only be able to practice as a candidate engineer due to a lack of experience. However, after three to seven years experience, then they can apply to be a professional engineer.

Members of the Engineering Council of South Africa are encouraged to enrol for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses annually to ensure they keep up to date with the latest developments in the engineering industry.

Nxumalo believes that if engineers working at state utilities are registered with the engineering council, they would be able to monitor their professional progress in the industry. This would also allow the council to investigate instances of members who were involved in unsound engineering practices.

The engineering council could deregister members if they are found guilty of such practices. However, it is currently not compulsory to join the SA engineering council and individuals can voluntarily choose to register with the council.





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