CAPE TOWN, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Highest level of load shedding was implemented across South Africa on Friday as a persistent power crisis worsened.
Electricity utility Eskom raised the level of load shedding from stage two to stage four in mid-day as a last resort to prevent the national grid from a total collapse.
Stage two load shedding allows up to 2,000 MW to be shed, while stage four calls for 4,000 MW to be rotationally cut off.
Under stage four load shedding, South Africans have to endure unscheduled power cuts at any given time without any warning for close to four hours at a time.
Staggering under poor management and alleged corruption, Eskom began to implement stage-two load shedding on Thursday after a respite of about one month during which South Africans were spared rolling power blackouts.
Eskom, which provides more than 95 percent of the electricity consumed in the country, blamed unplanned breakdowns of electricity generating units and low water levels at its pumped storage schemes for the worsening power crisis.
Eskom, the world's fourth largest coal-burning power plant, is accused of using load shedding to blackmail the government into repaying its heavy debt which amounts to 413 billion rand (about 28 billion U.S. dollars), but the state-owned parastatal denies the accusation.
South Africa has suffered from electricity insufficiency for more than a decade, with power blackouts having become increasingly frequent in recent years.
Load shedding costs the country billions of rands a day and trillions over the years.