South Africa has endured power emergencies and rolling blackouts after heavy rains affected the quality of coal supplies.

National utility Eskom declared three emergencies in the first two weeks of March, the last of which resulted in the first rolling blackouts in the country in six years.

Coal accounts for more than 80% of power generation in South Africa and Eskom has warned that its system’s capacity margin would remain tight throughout the summer. It has asked all customers to reduce electricity usage by 10% to conserve supplies.

"Eskom generates 95% of South Africa’s electricity"

On March 6 Eskom said it had taken the "painful yet necessary" decision to implement rotational load shedding to prevent a total blackout. Several days of continuous rain had resulted in poor coal quality resulting in additional load losses at Eskom’s power stations, mainly those in the Mpumalanga area.

Eskom generates 95% of South Africa’s electricity and has been investing in boosting power generation supplies since a series of power blackouts in 2008 severely affected the South African economy. The new Medupi power plant is expected to come on line in the second half of 2014.