(Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said fixing the state-owned power utility’s existing plants should be prioritized to end record blackouts, with private companies showing little interest in building their own capacity.

The “immediate focus” should be on improving the available plants’ performance through maintenance, Mantashe told the Investing in African Mining Indaba conference in Cape Town on Monday. Procurement of additional power over the short term and the import of energy from neighboring nations are other key solutions, he said.

State-owned utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. is struggling to meet demand for electricity, with its poorly maintained plants regularly hit by breakdowns. The government has announced emergency measures in recent years to tackle the energy crisis, including expediting private generation, but the award of tenders to supply the grid has been slowed by delays and lawsuits. 

“We haven’t seen any stampede of companies that want to build their own generation,” Mantashe told reporters.

South Africa’s mining production contracted for 10 consecutive months last year, hobbled by power cuts. Still, a change in regulations allowed Gold Fields Ltd.’s to build a bigger generation plant without the need for a license, cushioning the company from power cuts and enabling it to maintain and increase production the minister said in his speech. 

Read more: Why Blackouts Are Still Crippling South Africa: QuickTake

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