Are South African companies prepared for a national blackout?
As South Africa has been experiencing rolling blackouts and high stages of load shedding this year, concerns are growing about the possibility of a total national blackout. To mitigate this risk, the JSE and other listed companies have indicated that they are working on contingency plans for the worst-case scenario.
However, some insurance companies seem to have anticipated this situation and have already introduced grid failure exclusions as far back as last year. Even the South African Special Risk Insurance Association (Sasria), which covered massive losses resulting from the July unrest, has indicated that it will not cover consequential losses as a result of severe load shedding or a complete blackout.
What can be done to avoid a national blackout in South Africa?
Recently-appointed Electricity Minister, Kgosientso Ramakgopa, has been tasked to work with all energy stakeholders, especially Eskom, to rapidly bring down the higher stages of load shedding. However, according to one energy observer from Nigeria, South Africa could also learn from their experience and avoid repeating the same mistakes.
CEO at Clean Tech Hub Nigeria Ifeoma Malo suggests that there is a need for a robust investment power drive to bring more investors to the renewable energy sector in South Africa. She also recommends unbundling power assets and working across the value chain, not just generation, but also distribution and transmission.
Energy expert Tebogo Mosito from Disoko Engineering and Mining points out that South African companies are already feeling the strain of the power crisis, as it increases their operational costs. Mosito also highlights the challenge of finding skilled young people to install solar panels and other alternative sources of energy.
In conclusion, while the probability of a national blackout may be low, it is better to be prepared than sorry. South African companies should consider developing their contingency plans and exploring alternative sources of energy to mitigate the risk of a complete blackout. They could also support the government’s efforts to bring down the higher stages of load shedding and promote investment in the renewable energy sector.