South Africa's president says shaky power utility can't fail

South Africa's president says shaky power utility can't fail
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa arrives to deliver his State of the Nation Address at parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, Thursday, June 20, 2019. (Sumaya Hisham/Pool Photo via AP)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — South Africa’s president says the country’s struggling state-owned power utility Eskom “cannot be allowed to fail” and wants more funding to keep it afloat after its cash runs out in October.

President Cyril Ramaphosa in his first State of the Nation address since last month’s election acknowledged “enormous and severe challenges” including the economy’s sharpest decline in a decade.

That first-quarter plummet was blamed largely on widespread power outages under Eskom, which supplies about 95% of South Africa’s electricity and relies on the government to help service its $30 billion debt.

Ramaphosa also declared a “relentless focus on economic growth” in a country with 28% unemployment. More than 50% of young people are unemployed, and the president wants at least 2 million jobs created for them within the decade.