- The Department of Small Business Development is planning to roll out “energy relief packages” as loadshedding cripples small enterprises.
- Small businesses are generally unable to afford alternative energy sources to maintain operations as blackouts cover more and more hours of the day.
- It is not currently known what the relief packages could come with but the department says an announcement will be made soon.
Small businesses are feeling the brunt of the blackouts as Eskom’s loadshedding continues seemingly without end. South Africa is currently in alternating Stage 4 and Stage 5 outages as of Tuesday.
While disparate government officials have made vague comments about ending loadshedding, no concrete measures have been announced to be in effect.
However, in efforts to mitigate the adverse impact of power outages on businesses, the Department of Small Business Development says it is working on “energy relief packages” for small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs).
“Our aim is to find immediate solutions that can be urgently effected to avoid disastrous consequences, such as closure of small businesses and job losses in the SMME sector. This sector is still recovering from the ruinous effects of COVID-19. We cannot afford losing more businesses and jobs,” Department of Small Business Development Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said on Tuesday.
On Monday, the Sowetan highlighted on their front page a telling reality of the impact of loadshedding on small businesses, many of which were once sparks of hope.
“Here is a reminder of some small businesses crippled by every failed promise to fix Eskom,” the publication wrote. This was followed by a list of small businesses that have failed or are failing under sustained power outages.
The majority of small businesses cannot afford alternative power sources, and loadshedding causes businesses like grocers or spaza shops to begin selling at reduced cost to move product before it expires due to unpowered fridges and the like.
Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams does not indicate what exactly these relief packages will entail. These details are said to be announced soon, but since they are being outlined for “energy relief,” they could have some sort of technology to mitigate outages like inverters and batteries.
The minister has instructed the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) as well as the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa) to consult with different stakeholders outside of government to develop these relief packages.