Eskom’s load shedding is back with full force, after Stage 4 was announced on Wednesday afternoon and set to last at least two days until returning back to stage 2 on Saturday morning. In a recent statement by the power utility it was announced that various power stations were experiencing difficulties – “Over the past 24 hours a unit each at Medupi, Kusile and Matla power stations tripped, while a unit each at Lethabo and Arnot power stations were forced to shut down. This constrained the power system further requiring extensive use of emergency reserves and therefore, hampering the recovery of these reserves.” 


As a long-standing feature in our day-to-day lives, small business owners continue to show concern over the effects of load shedding on their bottom line. Xero’s 2020 State of South African Small Business report shows a large percentage of business owners feel load shedding is a major challenge they have to face.


A survey of 400 small business owners showed that 32% felt load shedding was one of the biggest challenges they have to face, which has only been heightened by the pandemic. On top of decreased consumer spending and cash flow issues, load shedding makes remote work or hybrid models even more tricky to navigate.


Despite many businesses accelerating digital transformation with the likes of the cloud, SMEs are still largely dependent on a stable electricity supply. Moving locations to ensure constant power disrupts online services, while small-scale manufacturing operations cannot go ahead when load shedding hits unless there is a generator onsite.


As soon as operational capacity decreases, so revenue gets reduced. In a 2019 Yoco report, 85% of businesses reported their revenue has decreased during load shedding, all while the costs of running a business had gone up after investing in backup energy solutions.


The following graph shows what SMEs feel would be the consequences of continued load shedding

Graph of load shedding consequences.

                                                          Source: Yoco


Below indicates how many SMEs surveyed did indeed lose revenue during load shedding

Graph of SME revenue loss.

                                                              Source: Yoco


Despite the outages, Eskom remains insistent there is no cause for concern stating, “Some generating units have returned to service and we anticipate another two units to return to service during the day. In addition, Koeberg Unit 1 is expected to return to service today and begin ramping up to full output within 48 hours.


We remind customers that load shedding is implemented as a last resort to maintain the stability of the power system regardless of the stage of load shedding.  The implementation of Stage 4 load shedding is therefore, no cause for alarm as the power system remains to be effectively controlled.”


Read more: How to survive load shedding