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South Africa pledges no power cuts for World Cup

By | March 5th 2010

LONDON, March 4

South Africa, bedevilled by electricity blackouts in recent years, has enough power capacity for the World Cup, the state utility company said on Thursday.

South Africa suffered severe power outages in early 2008 that badly hit the mining industry, but the acting chairman and chief executive of power utility Eskom, Mpho Makwana, said the lights would stay on during Africa's first World Cup in June.

Critics have expressed doubts that the country can cope with the nearly half a million fans expected for the World Cup, but South African leaders have insisted they will be ready.

Makwana said Eskom was "very comfortable" that it would be able to handle electricity demand during the competition.

"We have got adequate power to keep South Africa going throughout the calendar year 2010," he told Reuters in an interview during a visit to London.

Eskom, which supplies 95 percent of South Africa's power, had bought in electricity from independent firms to meet demand this year.

"That will somewhat ease the pressure," Makwana said. "But as far as the World Cup is concerned we are secure."

Eskom had been working with technical teams from the world soccer body FIFA and with municipalities in South Africa to ensure power demands were met.

Big electricity price rises by Eskom prompted threats of strike action by South Africa's powerful trade union federation on Thursday, but it was unclear whether the World Cup would be affected.

South African President Jacob Zuma, in London for a state visit, told journalists this week that his country had been working hard to complete stadiums, transport links and accommodation for World Cup visitors.

"We have prepared almost everything," he said. "We have been working hard on everything."

South Africa would receive an economic boost from the World Cup, Zuma said. "It will leave a huge legacy."

South Africa has invested billions in infrastructure for the World Cup, which officials say will give a major boost to tourism revenues in years to come.








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