US Citizens in South Africa Warned to Stockpile Food, Water Amid 'Ongoing Energy Crisis'

The US embassy in South Africa has warned citizens traveling to or living in South Africa to stockpile on food and water amidst an "ongoing energy crisis" taking place in the nation.

The warning, issued earlier this month, warns that the South African government has declared a "State of Disaster" in response to ongoing power shortages, caused by "load-shedding" or rolling blackouts, which are expected to last beyond 2023.

"Load-shedding currently results in localized power outages of up to six hours or more per day throughout the country," the US embassy stated.

"These planned electricity outages negatively affect private residences, businesses, municipal lighting, traffic lights, and hotels. Rolling blackouts can also impact water availability and safety, internet connectivity, cell phone network coverage, fuel pumps (and therefore fuel availability), residential security features, and the food supply."

Additionally, these power outages "have the potential to increase crime; for example, traffic jams when lights are out provide opportunities for smash and grab crime, and residences can be targeted when lights are out and security systems are not functioning. Further, ongoing conditions have led to an increase in protests and demonstrations, and in some cases civil unrest, throughout the country."

The warning from the embassy reminds US citizens traveling to or living in South Africa that the country has been labeled with a Travel Advisory Level 2: "Exercise Increased Caution due to Crime and Civil Unrest."

US citizens are encouraged to "be aware of your surroundings," review personal security plans, line up means of back-up power supplies, avoid demonstrations, "Exercise caution if unexpectedly in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests," and monitor media for updates.

To prepare for impending power outages, the embassy encourages US citizens to have backup means of communication in place, gather necessary medicines and medical supplies, memorize family phone numbers, and "identify safe areas around the city, these could include hotels, hospitals, churches, or police stations that may not lose power."

Additionally, US citizens are urged to maintain a 72-hours worth of food, water, and medical supplies, as well as stockpile flashlights, batteries, and basic tools.

In addition to citizens preparing, businesses in South Africa have been preparing for the potential collapse of the grid.

According to the Sunday Times, the South African Reserve Bank has stressed that a regional or national grid failure is unlikely to occur, but longer stages of load shedding have pushed businesses to prepare for the possibility.

MTN, a telecommunications company, has deployed more than 2,000 generators over the last year to counter stage four and higher load shedding.

On Sunday, Power utility company Eskom downgraded load shedding to stage 5, though it had been at stage six for almost an entire week prior. Eskom also confirmed that over 7,000MW were removed from the grid at times, saying that load shedding hit stage 7. Jacob Maroga,  Former Eskom CEO, said the company had technically implemented stage 8 load-shedding this week, as any cuts above 7,000MW are stage 8.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) reportedly has enough diesel reserves to run its operations for seven days.

Additionally, mines have installed generators to ensure that workers are able to be brought out of the mines in the case of a power failure.

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