Continued black-outs affect mobile giants and small enterprises

In Soweto, some of the emerging enterprises had to either close shop or send home their staff, as they could not operate- which means no income at the end of the month for some.

As a result they lose thousands of rand because they rely on electricity to be productive.

Asked what measures have been put into place to remedy the escalating costs of load-shedding and the impact it has on clients, Jacqui O’Sullivan, executive for Corporate Affairs, MTN South Africa says MTN has invested heavily in generators and back-up batteries, in an attempt to maintain communication for our customers, despite the lack of electrical power.

“MTN spent more than R100 million in the past year dealing with acts of theft and vandalism. These crimes tend to spike during load shedding when the lack of power sees substations being vandalised for copper wire which then further exacerbates the power supply problem, when electricity is meant to be restored.

MTN has had to deploy security teams around the country to protect the equipment at these sites, once again, at significant cost to the company.

The uncertainty surrounding the envisaged stages of load shedding and duration thereof puts additional strain on the network because if the duration and/or frequency of the load shedding increases, the current battery backup autonomy per site is compromised. The end result is increased operational costs for operators,” she said.

As for Tebogo Jiyane who operates a medium fish and chips in Naledi (Soweto), he’s story is not about millions he loses daily as a result of power cuts but the food he buys to prepare bunny-chow (kota).

“Its frustrating a lot because traveling from my place to purchase stock is money and imagine driving back only to find the whole area is switched-off, you could wonder the pain I had to endure?” asked Tebogo angrily.

For MTN they have a plan B in such situations as opposed to Tebogo’s enterprise.

Continued O’Sullivan:” However, operational impact was still felt where the frequency of the load shedding exceeded the capacity of the back-up devices.

Our batteries generally have a capacity of 6-12 hours dependant on the site category and require 12-18 hours to recharge dependant on the battery technology type. Where consecutive load shedding took place, batteries were unable to fully recharge, resulting in reduced back-up times.

We are doing all we can to ensure our batteries and generators remain fully

functional so we can limit the impact this load shedding has on our customers. We want our customers to be able to continue communicating and working, despite the electricity interruptions and we have operations teams working 24 hours a day to mitigate the impact on our customers, as far as we possibly can”.

Other mobile giants such as Cell C and Vodacom are feeling the wrath of the escalating load-shedding.

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