Load shedding is a term that has become part of our daily vocabulary in South Africa. It is basically a planned power outage due to maintenance or the demand exceeds the supply. In other words a failed government utility that has been getting away with this non service for 13 years now. They have been increasing our electricity bills by an average of 15% every year and now it is extremely expensive compared to what I paid in the UK. Our home bill is now over $400 just for electricity each month.
I raise the load shedding now as we have had it last night, tonight and tomorrow and I suppose we must be lucky as we haven't been scheduled for day time outages. This creates havoc for businesses as planning is thrown out the window as the schedules do change.
This was from 5 years ago and shows how bad things do get. Red is no electricity with virtually total blackouts. We should not be having this issue still 13 years on from when it first reared it's head.
Last year it cost our business tens of thousands in wasted material and down time. The money lost can never be recouped and is just money down the drain. When we are running our machinery during manufacture they run until the entire batch is completed and every time the power is shut off we discard whatever is on the machine at the time. It may not sound like much but we calculated just on material it is $150 every time it happens.
We are not a big business and our losses came in at over $10 000 last year due to wastage and down time. The schedules have improved over the years, but it is still not an exact science. 13 years is a long time to live with something that is constantly broken and one of the reasons why South Africa and other African countries cannot be taken seriously for investors.
Two years ago it was revealed part of South Africa's problem was that Zimbabwe had done a back door deal with some shady bribes and was getting free electricity which they then charged their customers making a small fortune. Not surprising South Africa had shortages as they were supplying another country.
Luckily or unlucky depending on how you look at it our factory is sort of moth balled till the end of the month but what about other businesses. The economy is under severe strain without added pressure of no electricity. I was at two businesses this morning who couldn't take card payments due to no power and was cash only. Stupid things like petrol stations cannot sell fuel as the electric pumps don't work and only businesses that are in centers with generators can operate.
The more you think about it how backward is the entire African continent as no one should be living like this. South Africa is what I would call more developed than the other countries yet everything is failing. Corruption is the cause of 99% of the problems and we all know that will never change even if Governments are replaced. The gravy train stops to change passengers as the destination is the same.
Under these conditions no one in their right mind would invest in Southern Africa as if a country doesn't have a regular supply of electricity then what is the point. Africa as a continent has the potential to be an economic hub for the rest of the world, but that will never happen with the way the people think as handouts are far easier to receive than working for something. Africa is and looks like it will remain a charity case forever and a drain on other countries supplying Foreign Aid. I kind of blame other countries for supplying aid for this mess as why work for something when everyone gives you money and it is now just expected.
Now I have to go out and buy more fuel for the generator we have and we are lucky as many don't have this and just use candles and the basics like cavemen.
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