As we all know very well, load shedding is something we have to live with, at least for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, many sectors throughout the country have been affected by the constant daily power cuts. Load shedding contributes to the failing economy and affects the most vulnerable members of the community, including school children, those in the farming sector, the tourism industry, public hospitals, small business enterprises, and other essential sectors.
Load shedding doesn’t only affect consumers, but greatly impacts businesses and companies all over South Africa. Read more about the ways that load shedding affects citizens and their communities below, and do your best to minimise the impact for you and those around you, just as we at SweepSouth have done.
How Load Shedding Impacts Small Businesses
Anything that affects small businesses in South Africa also affects our economy, proving the importance of SMMEs. Small businesses often miss deadlines, put up with inappropriate conditions, and have to deal with the disappointment of customers they turn away when they have no power to accommodate them.
Some of the biggest effects of load shedding on SMMEs include:
- Lacking Wi-Fi – Wi-Fi is a basic need in businesses, schools, and homes nowadays, and as it relies on a power source to provide a connection, load shedding affects anyone attempting to use the web through a Wi-Fi connection. When businesses can’t go online, they aren’t able to log onto their networks, stopping them from accessing emails or other digital items, as well as online banking and basic communications. Mobile networks are often also affected by load shedding, so there is sometimes no escaping time offline.
- Staff Morale – A business is usually only as good as its staff’s performance, so when load shedding is implemented, the morale decreases drastically. This has a negative effect on productivity, during and after load shedding, as well as retention and inter-office communication.
- ATMs – While most ATM machines have backup power during load shedding, those in more impoverished communities are usually left without. This results in retails and restaurants in surrounding areas seeing less traffic from people who would otherwise have visited a particular shopping centre to make ATM transactions.
- Loss of Planning – Although we generally do receive a load shedding schedule that we plan our days around, there is still the risk of emergencies and unplanned outages. This means that businesses lose their ability to forecast and plan accurately for the months and years ahead, which make staff and client acquisition, and retention, that much more difficult. For systematic planning, check out the best apps for the load shedding schedule.
- Inability to Trade – Restaurants and stores that don’t have the best natural lighting are often forced to shut their doors during load shedding due to a higher risk of theft. Naturally, this leads to a drop in sales and turnover.
- Damaged Equipment – Due to the increase in power surges, electrical appliances, sockets, and other areas of connection are at a higher risk of getting damaged. This is also a risk to the people making use of those appliances and tools.
- Traffic – In most South African cities, traffic is already a problem, but when a stage of load shedding strikes and shits down traffic lights, it worsens. This could lead to missed meetings, a loss in working time, delayed deliveries, and more potential for road accidents.
- Security – Shoplifting, theft, compromised digital security systems, and the shutdown of firewalls – these are some of the consequences for security systems. Many systems turn off when the power does, leaving businesses vulnerable to all sorts of attacks, and often resulting in an increased expense from extra insurance coverage.
Overall, the effects of load shedding cripples many businesses. However, if you as a business owner are looking to alleviate many of the problems mentioned above, consider investing in solar power systems. The variety of options available to both businesses and homes from various companies offers a light at the end of the tunnel.
How Load Shedding Affects Hospitals
- Compromised Health Care Services: Hospitals and healthcare workers that get affected by load shedding unfortunately experience the most detrimental effects. Sadly, when the power goes out, many public hospitals lose the ability to provide proper health care services; and even though they often have generators to provide backup power, it is still not a sustainable option.
- Damaged Equipment: Frequent blackouts also affect medical equipment, and as these get upgraded, uninterrupted power sources are also required, adding to further expenses. Consumables such as pharmaceuticals, medications, and vaccines, that require cold storage, are also a concern as they are unable to be kept at the appropriate temperature during load shedding.
- Safety Concerns: The safety of health care workers also becomes an issue during load shedding. Those who finish work late or start very early in the morning are the most vulnerable to criminal acts during power outages.
Load shedding also contributes to the backlog of certain surgical procedures. Thousands of patients have had to wait longer than they otherwise would have to undergo surgery. The ministry of health is trying to meet with Eskom weekly to ensure that no lives are lost as a result of this impact.
How Load Shedding Affects Schools
Load shedding has a vast impact on teaching and learning, once again, mainly in poorer communities that aren’t able to afford backup plans. Many schools aren’t made to let natural light into the classroom, and not all of them have alternative electricity generation. Learning that is reliant on technology gets halted and stunted, slowing the progress of future generations. Even schools equipped with the necessary resources will often run into problems as their equipment gets damaged as a result of the power surges.
The daily power cuts also make at-home studying difficult for learners, while the commute to school is also an issue as traffic lights that are out cause students to arrive late. Overall, you can see how this hurts education in this country, disrupting learning for our leaders of tomorrow.
Load shedding affects all areas of life and is causing much anger and frustration across South Africa. Over and above the topics mentioned in this post, many people have to use public library computers and resources for online learning or training, but that’s not possible when the power goes out. When it comes to residential criminal activity, communities have had to increase their security patrols as security alarms, cameras, and even automated gates are down during load shedding.
If you have also been impacted by load shedding, you may want to take the stress of chores off your shoulders and book a professional cleaning service on the convenient and easy-to-use SweepSouth platform, leaving you with one less thing to worry about.