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By Citizen Reporter


Government working to help small businesses with load shedding, but Gordhan won’t say how

The Public Enterprises Minister says he 'empathises' with the impact of load shedding on small businesses.

Load shedding has had a detrimental effect on small businesses across South Africa, resulting in their closure in some instances.

The Citizen previously reported that many small businesses working in sectors – such as manufacturing, tailoring, baking, printing and food processing – depend on the availability of electricity and every cut in supply for them means a cut in production.

ALSO READ: Load shedding: How businesses are attempting to adapt to an abnormal way of life

The problems are worse in rural and peri-urban areas where electricity cuts imposed by Eskom appear to be most severe, with some entrepreneurs reporting up to 12 hours of cuts at a time.

This hasn’t helped since load shedding has worsened from year to year, 2022 being the most intensive load shedding year to date.

It was estimated that load shedding cost the economy R500 million per stage, per day in 2020.

‘Long-standing problem’

In light of the frequent bouts of load shedding experienced daily, government, however, has seemingly remained evasive on what it was doing to assist small business.

“I certainly empathise with the impact of load shedding on small businesses. The shortage of energy in South Africa is a long-standing problem which the present administration is addressing, together with the recovery from State Capture.

READ MORE: Small business owners in Soweto say load shedding is destroying their lives

“Eskom will continue to endeavour to reduce load shedding and its impact on small businesses,” Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said in his reply to a parliamentary question from EFF’s Yoliswa Yako.

Yako asked Gordhan about what steps government was taken to mitigate the impact of load shedding on the income and generation of revenue by small businesses.

The country is currently on stage 3 load shedding, and it will remain in place until Sunday morning.

According to experts, South Africa’s energy crisis is expected to persist further in 2023, with more load shedding stages on the cards.

Burning diesel

Eskom has been burning millions of litres of diesel to keep the lights on.

The power utility has been forced to use open cycle gas turbines (OCGTs) that run on diesel, intended to bolster generation during peak-demand periods, to mitigate load shedding that has curbed economic growth and angered frustrated South Africans.

Last month, Eskom asked the National Treasury for R19.5 billion to buy diesel to fuel auxiliary power plants.

But Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana declined to come to Eskom’s rescue.

This after the power utility spent its entire budget, R11.2 billion for the 2022/2023, on diesel in six months.

Additional reporting by Ina Opperman.

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