Time for small business to plan around load shedding, says expert

The candle with flame in dark background
The candle with flame in dark background

With the load shedding returning to South African lives as a regular challenge, regional general manager at Business Partners Jeremy Lang said it is critical that small business begin to plan around the inevitable impact of an unstable and unreliable power supply.

On Sunday Eskom implemented load shedding for the first time since December. Since then load shedding has occurred for most of the week in one part of the country or the other.

Lang said, in a circular which Fin24 has seen, that the impact of stage 2 load shedding on a productive economy could be as steep as a R2bn loss per day. He said small businesses that have no back up power should consider changing their work schedules around load shedding.

"For example, some businesses can accommodate producing goods and services around the load shedding schedules, however, other businesses may rely on passing trade at a specific time of the day. If this is the case, then load shedding can be detrimental," said Lang.

Lang said the industries that are most affected by load shedding are manufacturing, retail and hospitality. He said these businesses vulnerable because they used cold storage and refrigeration.

"This is because over and above the potential loss of stock, the constant switching on and off can also damage the equipment which can become extremely costly to repair or replace," Lang said.

He said because electricity is generally cut for around two to four hours, a small-to-medium enterprise could lose up to four of an eight hour working day. This affects large machinery and employees who get paid by the hour.

"This can also be costlier as the machines may use more electricity to start up again, and in many instances, if the machines are busy with a continuous process and are interrupted midway, wastage costs will also increase," Lang said.

Lang said businesses should plan ways to soften the blow of load shedding on their bottom line and, if this is not possible, invest in backup electricity supply such as generators or UPS systems, he says.

"Further to this, as the abrupt break in electricity also has the potential to damage the hardware of your computers, it is imperative that all small and medium owners make sure that the business’s information is backed up on a daily basis on a secure cloud-based server, where possible," Lang said.

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