File picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)
File picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency(ANA)

Load shedding could hit SA until September 2021

By Nkululeko Nene Time of article published Dec 13, 2020

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Durban - Electricity supply will be on the blink this festive season as Eskom plans to continue load shedding.

The state owned entity (SOE) will inform the public today of their plans going forward, according to Eskom’s spokesperson, Sikhonathi Mantshantsha.

“We will keep the country informed about next week's schedule. There will be a high risk of load shedding going all the way to September next year,” he said.

On Friday, Eskom released a statement announcing the implementation of stage 2 load shedding because the system was severely constrained. The statement said it was to replenish the depleted emergency generation reserves for the coming week. On Sunday morning Eskom said it had cancelled load shedding for the day as reserves had recovered sufficiently.

Mantshantsha said load shedding was caused by a large number of unforeseen breakdowns from the ageing, unreliable plant over the past few days.

The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) president Nigel Ward said load shedding severely impacted the economy across crucial industry sectors resulting in the loss of productivity, which will inevitably lead to revenue losses and unplanned operational expenditure across industries and their value chains.

He added that load shedding also negatively impacted job security and economic growth prospects and caused other risks and threats to businesses such as equipment damage and project delays which could have lasting medium- and long term implications for businesses.

“The full impact of load shedding affects business and society in many ways such as limiting access to e-commerce, and is devastating. It also causes traffic delays and congestion due to traffic lights not working or requiring repairs, and provides criminals with the opportunity to take advantage of compromised security systems, “ said Ward.

He said the upcoming load shedding adds an additional strain on the economy given the pandemic crisis that already wreaked havoc on productivity, manufacturing and export capacity.

He said big businesses face severe risk as a result of load shedding, although they are better able to sustain their operations due to various costly risk management strategies and alternative energy solutions that are in place.

He said another significant effect was that machinery was often not equipped to cope with the power fluctuations and damage was done with power dips or power surges.

“In any industry where heat was required for melting, it was often not possible to begin heating and then allow the material to cool during a power outage, so the entire production shift may be cancelled in some cases, “ he said.

Ward said small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) are the worst affected by load shedding.The reality is that many SMMEs simply cannot afford to source alternative energy solutions such as generators, inverters or UPS (uninterruptible power supply) devices to mitigate the effects of load shedding.

“For most small businesses in both the formal and informal sectors, the 2- to 4-hour loss of productive time is crippling and places a significant negative financial burden on their businesses as they lose thousands of rand with each instance of load shedding,” said Ward.

Efficient Group economist Dawie Roodt warned that load shedding will further push the economy into the doldrums resulting in more people losing jobs.

He said the economy has not recovered from the recession after lockdown. Roodt said the mining and manufacturing sectors would be most affected.

“The economy is deeply in trouble because of the lockdown. But the lack of electricity also causes a strain on the small economic growth. Eskom suffers because of wrong policies and bad management. It should be stripped into pieces and privatised,” said Roodt.

THE struggling economy will be hard hit if load shedding becomes a reality until next year. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips African News Agency (ANA)

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