As load shedding continues to wreak havoc on South Africa’s infrastructure, tertiary institutions are among the hardest hit, incurring high costs to keep the lights on. Universities have had to fork out millions of rands on diesel to run generators, as they struggle to cope with power outages that have become a regular feature in the country.
In a recent parliamentary Q&A, the department of higher education, science and innovation reported that the University of Pretoria spent R2.2 million a month on diesel when the country was at Stage 6. The University of Johannesburg followed closely behind, spending around R890,000 per day, while the North-West University spent R492,000.
The economic impact of load shedding is widespread, with many businesses resorting to alternative energy sources such as diesel generators, solar panels, or inverters to survive power outages. Retailers such as Shoprite and Pick n Pay have had to spend millions of rands on diesel generators, just to stay afloat during power cuts.
The embattled power utility Eskom has just eased load shedding to Stage 3, citing small improvements in generation capacity, but the situation remains precarious, with analysts predicting further fluctuations.
South Africa has faced load shedding every day this year, with some of its higher stages being more common, averaging around Stage 4. The country also experienced its longest period of Stage 6 load shedding on record.
While universities struggle to cope with the costs of load shedding, it is important to note that they are not the only ones affected. The economic impact of load shedding is widespread, and urgent action is needed to address the issue.