South Africa’s government is bracing for more frequent and longer blackouts as aging and poorly maintained power plants continue to deteriorate.

Since 2008, the country has been subject to periodic blackouts, known locally as load shedding, with 4,000 megawatts of power currently off the grid to ensure it doesn’t collapse. Ongoing energy shortages were a major factor in the economy’s 0.7% drop in the second quarter.

The co-chairs of the group of cabinet ministers overseeing the economy on Thursday called for a solution to the worsening energy availability ratio from plants run by Eskom, which supplies most of the country’s electricity.

“We have to work on this and we have to do it urgently given the current load shedding,” Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Montashe told a briefing in the capital, Pretoria.

The Cabinet of Ministers named the weak business climate, logistical constraints and a suboptimal network of freight railways as factors restraining economic growth, in addition to the lack of energy security. Protests along major highways and infrastructure damage have also made South Africa’s transport network unreliable, Human Settlements Minister Mmamolaka Kubai said at the same briefing.

“Other countries end up finding alternatives” for goods in transit when roads to and from the eastern port of Durban are closed, she said. “That’s why you see the cargo traffic of the port of Maputo increasing, while our port is decreasing, because we are becoming unreliable,” she said, referring to the port in neighboring Mozambique.

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