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World Cup: Electricity might be in short supply in South Africa

May 17, 2010 |  4:00 pm

Turn out the lights, the party's starting.

That's the story in South Africa, where the state-owned Eskom electricity company has issued an early warning that supplies could be limited during the June 11-July 11 World Cup and has urged residents to curtail their use.

The company has even suggested that, in the event of power shortages, South Africans shut off everything except their television and one light. Supposedly, TV announcements are to be used for updates on possible blackouts.

Residents have long suspected that they might face shortages because the government and the organizing committee will demand that the stadiums and other World Cup facilities receive priority over households. Some residents already have bought generators or a supply of candles.

"Although electricity is expected to be sufficient over this period, cold winter temperatures combined with high electricity demand is likely to place Eskom under additional pressure," the company said.

According to reports from Zimbabwe, that country is planning to export electricity to South Africa during the World Cup even though its own supply is limited and Zimbabwe itself imports electricity from Mozambique and Zambia. The plan has angered Zimbabweans, who now fear they will not be able to watch the tournament because of power outages in their own country.

In March, South Africa's Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, promised the World Cup would not be disrupted by outages.

"I think we can definitely give that guarantee that there will be no blackouts, unless, of course, a major national disaster happens," he said. "All stadiums will run on diesel generators [and] the electricity grid will serve as backup.

"Eskom has also assured us that there will be no power interruptions during the World Cup."

-- Grahame L. Jones