In South Africa, small businesses are being negatively affected by load shedding, more so than larger companies – since they are more exposed to the effects of load shedding. Load shedding also carries a huge cost for SMEs.

Approximately eight million South Africans are employed in more or less five million formal and informal SMMEs (small, medium, and macro enterprises). This equates to approximately 40% of the country’s GDP, which means that the country’s economy is dependent on small businesses being successful and flourishing in order to thrive.

As a result of the crisis in the South African economy over the past few years, many small and medium sized enterprises have experienced difficulty in growing and sustaining, and the effects of load shedding is adding onto the burden which has now become a recognized reality, and is becoming a growing concern for many business owners.

As soon as the words load shedding come up, as the nation we immediately are struck with a feeling of frustration and misery, especially for those businesses that are housed in homes or buildings that do not have a generator or solar system that might provide alternative power solutions.

There is no doubt that South Africa’s economy is based on the small and medium sized businesses. These businesses play a very pivotal role in job creation and in building the economy. They provide jobs for most of the country’s population, so a lack of electricity for 3 or 4 hours has major financial implications for these companies.

It is evident that no small business is immune to the effects of load shedding, below are some, if not all, of the factors that evidently show the impact that load shedding has on SMMEs and business sector at large. How are businesses affected by load shedding really?

  • Load shedding leads to further job losses and in turn, results in lower production, spending, and further negativity affecting the economic growth of the country.
  • The rate of unemployment increases which in turn poverty raises because even small business cannot employ people who are in need of jobs.
  • The economy for small and medium businesses goes out of business because of the lack of important and adaptive resources for events that might be a treat to the business.
  • Loss of production: where most businesses use electricity for machinery, technology and light to complete the day’s work, loss of electrical power means that the day’s target reached.
  • Loss of profit: with the loss of production, there is a loss of profit, and in some cases, a large loss. Businesses cannot keep their employees to be present during a power outage as essentially they will be paying a non-worker or paying for a day lost at work.
  • Theft and burglary: small businesses are choosing to close for business during load shedding as the incidences of theft increase. During the power outage, burglar alarms are considered useless, unless they have an alternate power source, which in turn increase the risk of burglary.
  • Damage to electronics: the surge of electricity when the power returns upsets the steady voltage flow in the electrical system. This in turn can cause damage to electronic components.

Businesses feel the loss of power the most, especially those that are small and growing and do not have the necessary infrastructure to cope with the loss of power. In addition to trying to survive the pandemic, businesses are also faced the impact of load shedding, which is caused them more harm than good.

Small businesses are finding themselves in a sticky situation without power and find themselves helpless, losing thousands of rands with each instance of load shedding. Nevertheless, this does not mean that they have no options. Alternative power options, like solar energy, are real answers for small business owners looking for long-term solutions to sustain their businesses throughout South Africa’s unstable future. As technology has improved over the years, the installation and management costs of solar has drastically reduced, making it a viable path forward more than ever.