It is deeply worrying that the Gauteng Provincial Government is unable to track the exact impact that loadshedding has had on the province.
This revelation comes just as the country is hit by another round of loadshedding that will once again not only impact our residents negatively but also businesses which rely on electricity to continue production or trade.
While loadshedding has been with us for many years, its impact over the past two years has been particularly marked due to the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only have businesses been struggling with reduced revenues during the pandemic, but continued blackouts have caused even greater revenue loss.
According to a reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) regarding the impact loadshedding has had specifically on Gauteng, MEC Parks Tau explained that disruptions to operations caused by loadshedding have meant that businesses have had to work under unpredictable and unstable conditions.
In turn, workers lose working hours which has a direct impact on business productivity. Not only are the hours lost and unproductive but employees still need to be paid for those hours not worked. This is coupled with higher operating costs due to mitigating measures that need to be put into place such as the installation and operation of generators. In many instances, these additional unforeseen costs can be crippling to a business and can be the final straw causing the business to close.
The MEC has also indicated that an estimated 122500 jobs have been lost due to Eskom’s continued loadshedding. This revelation about the shockingly high level of job losses amongst Gauteng residents comes off the back of a Statistics SA (Stats SA) announcement that 2162000 residents are unemployed in Gauteng.
While the MEC was able to give a detailed response about the national impact the blackouts have had on the economy over the last two years, it is critical that as a province we can track exactly how many businesses have been forced to close their doors because of government’s poor planning.
Many industries in the province and particularly small businesses rely on Eskom to ensure that there is a constant supply of electricity. In many instances not only do businesses and our residents have to contend with loadshedding but also load reduction.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has recently been on a round of investment roadshows both locally and internationally in an attempt to entice investors to invest in South Africa. A regular efficient supply of electricity is one of the basic factors that investors would require before they commit large amounts of capital to South Africa.
Where we govern in the Western Cape, the City of Cape Town has already published documents to become independent of Eskom and utilise Independent Power Producers (IPPs).
The DA will work hard to promote the proliferation of IPPs in Gauteng to reduce the reliance on Eskom supplying electricity in the province. The DA will push, through all means available to it, for the Gauteng government to offer incentives for IPPS to set up power generation in the province and reduce reliance on Eskom and the dire impact it has on its economy.