South African businesses should prepare for grid collapse

  • On the back of Stage 6 loadshedding last week following SONA, David Lipton, founder and CEO of globalCom Africa, says local business need to prepare for what lies beyond Stage 8.
  • With a collapse of the power grid a significant possibility, solutions that provide connectivity will prove essential for local businesses.
  • Lipton says solutions like globalCom’s Crisis Communication-as-a-Service (CCaaS) could prove vital.

The irony of Stage 6 loadshedding being implemented mere hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation Address proclaiming that the worst was behind us, is not lost on anyone. It also serves as harsh reminder that Stage 8 and beyond is always a possibility, which is why businesses should make sure they are adequately prepared for the prospect of a power grid collapse.

According to David Lipton, founder and CEO of globalCom Africa, businesses need to be realistic and to prepare for grid collapse by adopting proactive measures to safeguard against a potential crisis in the future.

“Most critically, is the urgency for multi-branch organisations to empower off the grid connectivity in preparation for challenging times ahead,” globalCom noted in a release shared with Hypertext.

“Every business has the responsibility of risk assessment and contingency planning. Businesses providing essential services have an ethical obligation, especially within a South African context, to ensure they have contingency plans in place for their organisations to be best equipped to navigate crisis. It is not alarmist; it is a responsible action to take. Businesses need to prepare for the potential crisis of a national blackout, regardless of this being due to grid failure, or any unforeseeable disaster,” Lipton stressed.

The CEO pointed out that while Stage 8 loadshedding is an imminent risk people are currently concerned about, the real looming crisis is grid collapse, which would throw the country into an entirely different state – an unprecedented, total blackout, with a devastating impact on business, safety, and food security.

It is here that Lipston emphasised the importance of ensuring uninterrupted connectivity and communications as an element that should be prioritised by local business as part of their grid collapse preparations.

In particular he highlighted RAPID CCaaS (Crisis Communication-as-a-Service) as a solution that ensures seamless communication across sites via the Iridium satellite constellation, which enables uninterrupted communications between multi-branch organisations. 

“The objective of RAPID CCaaS is to guarantee uninterrupted communication through a satellite-based gateway, even in situations like grid failure or force majeure events,” globalCom explained.

“In the case of a national blackout, the first couple of days will be the calm before the storm, where those with backup power can sustain communications and still obtain food and fuel. It is the two to three weeks it will take to bring the country back onto the grid, that is critical. During this time, the supply of essential goods and services will have to be maintained, to limit chaos and panic,” he posited. 

“With loss of electricity, fibre and cell phone towers, fear will set in. That’s when we’re at risk of looting and mass panic. However, essential businesses have the capability to bring calm and stability to the chaos – if they are prepared. If South Africans have access to food, water, fuel and emergency health services, fear will subside. This cannot be done if companies have no communication. Even with continuous power supply or back-up power such as solar, there’s no use for a cell phone that has power, but no network,” Lipton continued.

It is the businesses that are proactive in terms of their strategy for resilience that will be best placed to whether the chaos of a grid collapse, the globalCom Africa founder eulogised. Pointing to products like RAPID CCaaS exist, the availability of failsafe, reliable communications infrastructure that is simple to install and operate, will be the difference maker when emergencies strike.

“Rather ‘be safe than sorry’ is a term that comes to mind, and when it comes to risk assessment and contingency planning, uninterrupted connectivity is critical, and is something all businesses in South Africa should be looking into,” he concluded.

[Image – Photo by natsuki on Unsplash


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