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Simultaneous system outages rock Eskom, City Power

  • Eskom and Johannesburg’s electricity firm City Power both were dealing with unconnected outages in their customer service systems last week.
  • While Eskom has now fixed the issue, it must now work through a backlog of unreported outages.
  • City Power however is still dealing with technical challenges at its data centre.

Last week Friday, 5th July, South Africa’s national energy utility Eskom, and the Johannesburg’s energy utility City Power revealed interruptions to IT systems belonging to each company. The interruptions were affecting the ability of customers to interact with digital tools necessary to report outages and make payments digitally.

Both outages occurred a week after a massive ransomware attack essentially knocked the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) offline, but these particular outages appear to not be related, and the timing is likely a coincidence.

City Power, in fact, is blaming the outage on changes to electricity tariffs for Johannesburg residents, especially for local businesses. Its own system failure was first revealed to the public on Friday, via a post on X.

It said at that time that services such as accessing prepaid and postpaid account updates, registering meters, updating customer details and viewing customer buying patterns were available, but the SAP system remained offline.

“Also affected by this is the process to refund electricity units to residential customers whose accounts were charges on business tariffs due to a glitch that happened on the 1st July. Customers will have their electricity units reimbursed when this current system problem is fixed,” City Power said in the statement.

As of Monday, 8th July, City Power was still working to resolve the problem around the SAP system, with no updated information. “The inconvenience caused is regretted and we extend our apologies to affected customers,” it added.

Meanwhile, Eskom announced that same Friday that technical challenges were plaguing its IT system, affecting services such as contact centre operations.

“Customers are currently unable to access our systems to report outages, and some functions related to resolving faults are done manually, which will cause delays in restoration of supply,” Eskom said on X.

“Our IT technicians are working on resolving the issue. At this stage, we are unable to estimate how long it will take to resolve the matter.”

The customer service system continued to be affected into Saturday, with the system entirely unavailable.

It did not say what caused the outage, but systems have been restored as of Monday. However, now the company must work through a backlog of outages reported while the system was offline.

“We are working through the backlog and this will affect the time for restoration of supply,” it said.

[Image – Photo by David Pupăză on Unsplash]

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