- South Africa's economy, businesses and its people can't afford the havoc load shedding is wreaking, Business Unity SA says
- The business lobby group estimates that the surge in load shedding is costing the country about R4 billion a day.
- BUSA says its ready to support immediate interventions to address the crisis and is awaiting government’s lead.
- Get the biggest business stories emailed to you every weekday, or go to the News24 Business front page.
Government knows what needs to be done, and has to urgently take the lead and make tough decisions that are clearly necessary in order to solve an energy crunch that is rapidly eroding South Africa's economic prospects, says Business Unity SA (BUSA).
An unprecedented level of trips and breakdowns across Eskom’s power stations necessitated the implementation of Stage 6 load shedding for the second time this year. While it has marginally improved to Stage 5, there is no immediate outlook for when this bout of load shedding will end.
BUSA said it is estimated that the current load shedding is costing the country around R4 billion a day.
"The country cannot afford this, and it is exacerbating an already strained socioeconomic situation. Small and medium businesses are experiencing severe difficulties, and many may not be able to recover from this. Also, the disruption to the day-to-day lives of ordinary citizens is severe," the business lobby group said in a statement on Thursday.
"Stage 6 load shedding is a major blow to an economy that is already battling to achieve growth, because of some global headwinds, but primarily because government is still not taking the tough decisions on structural reforms and priority interventions to increase investment and stimulate growth."
President Cyril Ramaphosa cut short his visit to the United Kingdom on Monday to specifically deal with the load shedding crisis, and a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday was briefed by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan on Eskom’s capacity and a progress report by the National Energy Crisis Committee (Necom). Cabinet's response after that was that it "regrets" the load shedding, and was "still deliberating".
News24 Business reported on Tuesday that Necom, which as been tasked with implementing President Cyril Ramaphosa's crisis plan announced two months ago, had made progress in streamlining and shortening timeframes for regulatory processes in order to enable the expansion of private power generation. This was according to a presentation made to BUSA last week.
BUSA on Thursday acknowledged that there was some progress with Ramaphosa’s energy plan, but the economic damage of what was happening now was so severe that "there must be an immediate intervention to deal with the crisis to at least manage load shedding better."
It says there needs to be a short-term plan to urgently enable Eskom to purchase power and step-up repairs to plants, while vacancies on the power utility’s board need to be filled by people with relevant experience. Eskom also needs to fill any gaps in its technical expertise.
BUSA also wants more details on what is causing the current load shedding.
"Are there instances of sabotage? If so, what is being done about this? Are there shortcomings in management or implementation? If so, what is being done about that?"
"Business is assisting government with the president’s energy plan, and we are ready to support immediate interventions to address the immediate crisis, or at least ameliorate it. We await government’s lead."