Which Countries Have The Most Power Outages?

Jan 10, 2022
By Staff writer

Did you know that power outages can cost countries significant financial loss? These happen for different reasons, including human errors and natural disasters. While the latest technology has allowed power companies to invest in modern power grids, not all countries have access to these, and they are more likely to suffer more losses due to power outages.

According to The World Bank, the top countries with the most value lost due to power outages from 2018-2020 are the following:

Countries With The Most Power Outages:

Country Year Percentage of value lost
Zambia 2019 18.8%
The Gambia 2018 14.2%
Chad 2018 9.8%
Morocco 2019 7.9%
West Bank and Gaza 2019 7.6%
South Africa 2020 5.5%
Kenya 2018 5.4%
Kosovo 2019 3.7%
Mozambique 2018 3.2%
Uzbekistan 2019 3.0%

Read: What Is The Average Power Bill In New Zealand?


What causes power outages?

There are many possible causes why power outages happen, mostly external and beyond the control of the power system and provider. There are also instances wherein power providers have no choice but to cut power for a certain period, especially when there's not enough capacity to meet the demand or when they have to do maintenance work.

More often than not, power outages are not caused by just one event but a combination of several reasons. In fact, there's almost no outage known where a faultless grid collapsed due to a single cause.

Here is the basis for a high power outage risk:

  •  High power demand or high grid utilisation
  •  High power plant utilisation
  •  Defects due to material ageing

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Below are some events that will most likely cause a power outage in combination with the preconditions mentioned above:

  • Human failure, especially during maintenance work or when switching operations
  • Simultaneous grid interruption
  • Unexpected simultaneous interruptions of some power plants
  • Unforeseen simultaneous high power demand
  • Power line damage or electrical equipment breakdown due to natural disasters or hazards (earthquake, flood, lightning, extreme temperatures, etc.)
  • Cyberattacks
  • Power plant shut down due to revision or supply failures

Read: What Causes Power Outages In New Zealand?

Power Outages in New Zealand

Last August, a power cut affected more than 30,000 homes after having their lines cut off, which lasted for two hours without warning. After an investigation, former minister Pete Hodgson and technical advisor Erik Westergaard found out that the power cuts did not have to happen because there wasn't a shortage in electricity to start with.

It was found that Transpower did not have complete visibility of the power savings made. Energy Minister Megan Woods said that she had requested the Electric Authority and chairs of Transpower to consider the report's recommendations and give her an update on the progress for each quarter, to avoid it from happening again. 

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Common types of power outages:

Even for a short time, power outages can cause major disruptions in our work and life. Here are the common types of power outages:


A brownout occurs when there's a drop in electrical voltage or electrical power supply. You will know that it's a brownout when your lights dim and your electronic appliances give poor performance.


A complete loss of power in an area means a blackout has occurred. It's the most common type of power outage, and it's usually caused by a fault in the power grid. The outage may last from minutes to months and may take technicians some time to fix, depending on how bad the damage is.

Permanent Fault

A fault in the power line may cause a sudden power loss and require a technician to fix the power line for the lights to be restored. Compared to other power outages, a permanent fault is easier to fix and does not affect larger areas.

What should I do if I experience a power issue?

Whether you live in major cities like Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Whangarei or rural areas in New Zealand, you can contact your energy companies if you're experiencing a power outage in your area. This will also help them identify the affected areas quickly.

Your local line service is responsible for repairs in your area, so it's best if you report the outage by looking up your local company (Vector, Unison, and Powerco, etc.). If you're not getting any response, it's most likely that they're getting a lot of calls.

Some power outages are planned so that companies can do their maintenance to their network. To prepare, you can go to your power company's website to check if they have any scheduled maintenance work.

Read: How To Read Your NZ Power Bill

Some other helpful tips:

  • Have a flashlight and extra batteries handy
  • Consider getting surge protection for your appliances.
  • Water pumps may not work during an outage, especially in rural areas, so it's best to store emergency water for drinking and washing.
  • Switch off sensitive electrical equipment like your computer, TV, etc., as these types of equipment can be affected by a power surge once power is restored. 
  • Keep your refrigerator closed, so the food will last longer even when the power is off.
  • Turn your appliances off, so they don't come back on unnoticed once electricity is restored.

If you or someone from your household relies on power for medical reasons, notify your local emergency services.

Read: How To Avoid Getting Overcharged On Your NZ Power Bill

How can NZ avoid power outages in the future?

The Electric Authority makes sure to respond quickly whenever there are any power outages. Additionally, NZ companies are also launching projects such as solar farms to improve their electricity resources and meet electricity demands, which could help prevent power outages.

Loss of power can cause major inconveniences in our lives, so it's only essential to make sure you're in the right provider and plan.

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