Page last updated at 08:32 GMT, Monday, 21 September 2009 09:32 UK

S Africa 'may miss power target'

President Jacob Zuma
President Jacob Zuma wants to widen access to electricity

South Africa's aim to provide universal access to the national electricity grid by 2012 may not be realised, the country's state power utility has said.

More investment in distribution and skills will be needed if the target is to be reached, Eskom managing director Kannan Lakmeehran told Reuters.

Widening access to power is a major priority for President Jacob Zuma.

Eskom has been rationing electricity this year as the national grid cannot cope with demand from South Africans.

'Major concern'

The government has set a target of 2012 to provide universal access to the grid.

Mr Lakmeehran said Eskom will need to spend at least 300bn rand ($40bn; £25bn) to achieve this goal.

"It's a difficult target. It will require significantly higher investment in distribution networks in Eskom and in the municipalities," he said.

"We also need to make sure that we have enough skills to execute the programme. That's another major concern."

South Africa's vast network of transmission lines makes providing electricity particularly difficult.

Eskom says it generates 95% of South Africa's electricity.

The firm operates 11 coal-fired power stations, Africa's only nuclear-powered plant and other smaller power stations.

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