State-owned utility Eskom, struggling to produce enough electricity to meet demand, has for the past few days implemented 24-hour rotational blackouts, known as load shedding, suppressing up to 4 000MW of demand at a given time to avoid a total collapse of the grid.

“With small businesses already dealing with hikes in VAT (value-added tax) and petrol, coupled with decreased consumer spending, load-shedding is a bridge too far, particularly for restaurateurs,” Retail Capital said.

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“For those who took their chances with the last rounds of load shedding and held back on purchasing equipment for standby measures, now might be the time to make those investments. Many business owners are taking loans to fund these capital expenses.”

It said restaurant owners who bought gas stoves during a similar power crisis a few year ago were now at a distinct advantage. Uninterruptible power supplies and back-up power inverter systems that keep tills and computers running should also be considered.

“Load shedding, it seems, is here to stay,” the SME funder said. “It’s essential that business owners take that investment step to operating fluidly when the lights go out.”

– African News Agency