World Cup power cut crisis averted

CAPE TOWN - The risk of power cuts during the 2010 World Cup has been averted because the global economic crisis has reduced South African consumption, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said on Monday.

Africa's strongest economy has been rationing power since January last year when the national grid almost collapsed, forcing economically vital mines and smelters to shut for days.

A programme to increase capacity will take years to complete and there had been fears the energy shortage would hurt the World Cup in June and July 2010, when 450,000 fans and tourists are expected.

But Peters said in a written parliamentary answer: "The global economic turmoil has provided additional relief in the way that electricity in South Africa has declined year-on-year.

"The result is that we have enough reserve margin to see us through the 2010 FIFA World Cup," she said, without elaborating.

Peters added that various safeguards had been put in place to ensure a problem-free World Cup, including back-up generators at the country's 10 tournament stadiums.

South Africa's power utility Eskom plans to spend 385 billion rand ($47.15 billion) over the next five years to boost capacity.