Load shedding hits SA's small businesses hard

Load shedding
Load shedding

Though Eskom has promised to turn load shedding around in time for the festive season, small businesses have felt its impact hit hard.

During a visit to the business hub of Johannesburg on Thursday afternoon, Fin24 heard from entrepreneurs who, at times, lost as much as over half of their profits during load shedding.

Baker Nkosana Ndlovu makes over 10 000 scones a day. On Wednesday, when the electricity was shut off, all the prepared dough had to be thrown away, Ndlovu told Fin24.

Veronica Mazibuko owns a small stall selling vegetables and ice cream. Mazibuko makes the bulk of her income from the ice cream machine, which operates on electricity.

"I make around R300 a day," she told Fin24.

"When there is no electricity for hours, I only make R120."

Fin24 reported earlier in November that Eskom is running low on coal; municipal debt has ballooned by another R2bn since May and the risk of load shedding is "very high".

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and the Eskom board on Thursday moved to assure the public that the power utility was working to fix the current power outages, although it was difficult to predict when the next breakdown of generation units would be.

Gordhan said measures were in place to avoid outages over the festive season, saying the period from December 15 to January 15 often had low demand, and dismissed reports of a "dark Christmas".

"We want to assure business that by the time you get back to work in January, we will have a much more stable situation," Gordhan added. 

According to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, during 23 days of load shedding in 2008, the SA economy lost an estimated R50bn – the equivalent of R2.17bn per day.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe previously told Fin24 that the cost of running diesel generators at Eskom – while high – was not as high as the cost of blackouts to SA's economy.

Eskom has reported that on Friday, December 7, there will be a full day of stage 1 load shedding. 

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