Many small South African business are now being forced to take loans to buy standby equipment to use during rolling electricity powercuts, small and medium enterprises funder Retail Capital said on Wednesday.

State-owned utility Eskom, struggling to produce enough electricity to meet demand, has for the last few days implemented 24-hour rotational blackouts, known as loadshedding, it which it suppresses up to 4,000 MW of demand at a given time to avoid a total collapse of the grid.

“With small businesses already dealing with hikes in VAT (value-added tax) and petrol, coupled with decreased consumer spending, load-shedding is a bridge too far, particularly for restaurateurs,” Retail Capital said.

“For those who took their chances with the last rounds of load-shedding and held back on purchasing equipment for standby measures, now might be the time to make those investments. Many business owners are taking loans to fund these capital expenses.”

It said restaurant owners who bought gas stoves during a similar power crisis a few year ago were now at a distinct advantage. Uninterruptible power supplies and back-up power inverter systems that keep tills and computers running should also be considered.

“Load-shedding, it seems, is here to stay,” the SME funder said. “It’s essential that business owners take that investment step to operating fluidly when the lights go out.”
This article was first published by IOL on the 20th March 2019.