As we all very well know, load shedding is something we have to live with for now. 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.
How Load Shedding Impacts Small Businesses
Anything that affects small businesses in South Africa also affects our economy, including SMMEs. Small businesses often miss deadlines, put up with inappropriate conditions, and have to deal with the disappointment of their customers when they have to turn them away as 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 doesn’t help anyone trying to use the web. When businesses can’t use the internet, 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 also affected by load shedding, so there is no escaping time offline.
- Staff Morale – Your business is usually only as good as your staff’s performance, so when load shedding takes place, the morale decreases drastically. This has a bad effect on productivity, during and after load shedding, as well as retention and inter-office communication.
- ATMs – Retail and restaurants are impacted greatly, especially as ATMs everywhere are out of order during load shedding, particularly those in malls and shopping centres. This is an inconvenience for customers, as it stops them from shopping and means they have to avoid certain malls or shopping centres when they believe load shedding may occur.
- Loss of Planning – Although we generally do receive a schedule for load shedding that we plan our days around, there is still a risk of emergency 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. Plan ahead and check out the best apps for the load shedding schedule.
- Inability to Trade – Restaurants and stores are reliant on electricity, particularly if they are placed in malls that don’t have the best natural lighting. This forces many stores to shut their doors during load shedding which then leads to a drop in sales and turnover.
- Damaged Equipment – Power surges are common, and usually, an increased flow of current leads to a short socket or damage to electrical appliances and gear.
- Traffic – In any city, traffic is already bad, but when there is load shedding and the robots or traffic lights stop working, it becomes way worse. This could lead to missed meetings, time loss, 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.
Load shedding is tough on businesses; the only long-term solution to sustain business operations is to install solar power systems. As the cost of installation and maintenance has decreased over the years, it seems like the only clear path for businesses.
How Load Shedding Affects Hospitals
Load shedding also has a big effect on hospitals and healthcare workers. Sadly, when the power goes out, many public hospitals lose the ability to provide proper health care services. Even though they often have generators to provide backup power, it is still not a sustainable option.
Frequent blackouts also affect medical equipment; as health equipment has been upgraded and requires an uninterrupted power source, they get damaged as continuous power cuts occur. 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.
The safety of health care workers also gets compromised. 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 some surgical procedures. Thousands of patients have had to wait longer than they should 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 is also disruptive to teaching and learning. Some schools aren’t made to let natural light into the classroom, and not all schools have alternative electricity generation. Learning that is reliant on technology is massively affected. As schools move towards the digital era, some have started using smart boards, which are also disrupted as soon as load shedding starts. The daily power cuts also makes at-home studying for learners difficult, and the commute to school is also an issue as traffic lights that are out cause students to arrive late to school. Overall, you can see how this has a negative impact on education in this country, disrupting learning for our leaders of tomorrow.
Load shedding is causing much anger and frustration across South Africa. 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. And, with increased criminal activity, many communities have had to increase their community 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 some stress off your shoulders and book a professional cleaning service with SweepSouth, so that you have one less thing to worry about.