Nedbank's head office branch in Sandton. Nedbank has both solar and diesel generators to rely on and has extensive diesel caches on hand. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi

BANKS in South Africa are stockpiling fuel to run generators so that they can keep operating should power cuts worsen.

Barclays Africa Group said yesterday that it had more than 400 000 litres of diesel – about 17 times the volume stored at the average South African filling station. Nedbank Group has fuel to last about 10 days, should deliveries of diesel be cut off by a complete national power blackout, an event Eskom avoids by turning off parts of the grid when demand exceeds supply.

“This has certainly been a top-of-minds matter for executive management and our board since the beginning of the year,” Mike Brown, the chief executive of Nedbank, said. “We have both solar and diesel generators to rely on, and have extensive stockpiles of diesel on hand spread across the country where we operate so we can last at least 10 days.”

Eskom has rationed power to households and businesses on 18 days this year to prevent demand overwhelming its fleet of ageing plants and causing a total blackout. The utility has said that it could take “days” to restore power to Africa’s second-largest economy if the grid collapsed.

Standard Bank Group and FirstRand, South Africa’s two biggest lenders, said they had generator back-up and had identified critical sites where additional alternative power systems had been installed.

Keeping the banking system and national ATM networks running in a blackout would be essential, said George Herman, the head of South African investments at Cape Town-based Citadel Wealth Management.

“South Africans don’t carry a lot of cash because of security concerns.

“Keeping cash in the system would be super important.” – Bloomberg