Load shedding has become part of the daily lives of South Africans as load reductions are implemented almost daily across the country. This comes as the power demand exceeds the available supply.
South Africans were introduced to load-shedding for the first time in 2007. But the country endured further power cuts in 2022. According to Dr. Ulrich Minnaar, apart from 2021, there were more power outages in September than in any other month since load shedding began in 2007."In the year 2022 alone, the country experienced 205 days of load shedding, resulting in equipment failures and damage, theft, and vandalism.
Aside from COVID-19, the implementation of load reduction has negatively impacted the country's economy, with many businesses being affected and countless jobs being lost. "South Africa's gross domestic product decreased by 0.7% in the second quarter of 2022, which was largely attributed to rolling blackouts that hampered economic output," according to Statistics South Africa (Business Tech).Individuals working from home are also the hardest hit, as mobile networks are disrupted, resulting in no service and, ultimately, load shedding becoming a stumbling block impeding their ability to work and meet deadlines.
Funeral parlors are among a few businesses that are feeling the impact of load shedding. This has led to people being asked to bury their loved ones quickly to prevent their bodies from decaying since keeping the cold storage running during load shedding is expensive.
As the summer season reaches its peak, the country has experienced heavy rain and flooding in some parts of the country. This has led to a loss of electricity in some parts of the country, and the power utility (Eskom) has had to increase the stages of load shedding. Household electrical appliances were also found to be affected by rotational power cuts, with claims increasing and numbers doubling since 2018. It was also found that insurance claims for burglaries and vehicle accidents have increased.
September 2022 was the month impacted the most by load shedding, while many students were preparing for their end-of-year final examinations. According to Nicole McCain, the South African Democratic Teachers' Union's (Sadtu) spokesperson, Nomusa Combi told News24 that load-shedding is disruptive to teaching and learning. The CEO of the Federation of School Governing Bodies (Fedsas), Jaco Deacon, mentioned how learners only have a few hours of electricity to study. Furthermore, it is more than evident that load shedding hampers effective learning and studying.
The health sector has also raised concerns about the impacts of load shedding within the sector. In a media briefing on September 30, 2022, Minister Joe Phaahla briefed the media on the impact of load shedding on the provision of healthcare services and intervention measures. The minister surmised that the impact of load shedding on the provision of healthcare services cannot be underestimated or overemphasized. "These persistent power cuts are unquestionably minimizing the lifespan of some of the critical medical machinery and equipment, including backup generators," he said. Luke Daniel of Business Insider claims that patients who rely on private oxygen concentrators at home are at risk due to Eskom load shedding.
On the other hand, research indicates that load shedding can have positive effects on family dynamics as it allows for more time spent interacting with loved ones. This comes as there is less screen time on cell phones and television, which allows parents the time to engage more with their loved ones. Parents can also play board games with their children and teach them new things. Blogger Analytikal Mama describes load-shedding as a blessing in disguise. She further exclaims that "load shedding may be the best time to initiate creative thinking as well as problem-solving skills in children."
With the government of South Africa and Eskom trying to mitigate power cuts in our country, politicians and fellow South Africans took to social media and expressed how fed up they are with load shedding and also made threats of a national shutdown if rolling blackouts continued.
On January 26, 2023, the executive mayor of Johannesburg, Dr Mpho Phalatse, and City Power CEO Tshifularo Mashava briefed the media on the intervention plans to reduce load shedding in the city of Johannesburg.Phalatse mentioned that City Power experienced losses of 386 GWh between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, resulting in a net revenue loss of about R284 million. The power utility also incurred costs of about R155 million owing to overtime as a result of load shedding and R35 million in insurance costs.
Phalatse added that the city of Johannesburg is eventually working towards procuring an additional 500 MW of electricity, which could offset up to Stage 5 load shedding. "The Sustainable Energy Strategy's short-term objectives'' have an estimated cost demand of R401 million to avoid up to stage 3 load shedding because stages 2 and 3 are likely to continue for at least the next 18 months."
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