OUR VIEWPOINT: Business puts its hand up

2015-05-19 13:08

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NEWS that the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, the Msunduzi Municipality and big business are about to embark on a voluntary load-shedding plan will be music to the ears of those inconvenienced by the seemingly endless power cuts.

On Friday, big business will shut off its lights and air conditioners, and industry will cut back on production to feed electricity back into the grid.

For residents and business, the ramifications could be huge. If Eskom believes enough load has been shed voluntarily, then there is possibly no need for load shedding.

There will be those who will ask why this is necessary in the first place, but unfortunately, Eskom has crossed a line and the electricity crisis is here to stay.

But the efforts of all involved in what is a pilot project for a South African municipality must be commended in the strongest possible terms.

If it is successful, the project will be adopted by other municipalities.

There certainly is a feeling of empowerment, with businesses putting up their hands to help relieve the electricity strain that has affected every­one.

But it is business that has been the most affected, with constant power cuts costing it millions and impacting on the country’s ability to create new job and progress, especially in the industrial sector.

For the country to allow this crisis situation to worsen would be catastrophic.

A march through Accra in Ghana last week highlighted what happens when a country fails to meet the energy needs of a developing country. The three-year-long electricity crisis in Ghana has crippled the country’s economy and left Ghanaians with power for 12 hours out of a 36-hour cycle.

Economic growth in Ghana has reportedly been slowed by a fiscal crisis that has forced the government to seek International Monetary Fund support and has undermined its reputation abroad for financial management.

There are lessons here for the South African government.

How the crisis is managed over the next few years will also play a pivotal role in where the booming middle class and big business choose to source their electricity.

If they look to private suppliers then the indigent will suffer as Eskom will be unable to stay afloat.

Load shedding has become a way of life for South Africans, but business plans to show that the best way to deal with it is to take control and offer Eskom solutions on how to feed back power into its grids

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