The true cost of load shedding

Load shedding has cost all of us over the past few weeks, but do you know exactly how much?

Neither did we, until we did a little digging.

Cost to the economy at large

According to Chris Yelland, load shedding costs SA approximately R1 billion per stage, per day. Those Stage Four blackouts… they cost about R4 billion for each 24 hour period. That’s more than the national police service receives every year from government.

Investec’s Annabel Bishop says it’s even more dire than that – she estimates that it could have cost the country R2.4 trillion by the end of 2019’s first quarter, which is half of SA’s GDP, according to The South African.

Cost to business

Load shedding this year has been nothing short of brutal for business owners, with many struggling or even failing to keep their doors open in the tidal wave of load shedding-related costs and losses.

Among the chief things plaguing businesses are cost of business interruption, operating hours and the profit with them being lost, perishable stock damaged or expired and damage to electrical outputs when power surges and dips occur. Another newer trend is the rise of ‘load shedding burglaries’, in which criminals watch the schedule and hit workplaces during hours when security measures like electric fences are likely to be offline.

This obviously creates a negative feedback loop for both economy and enterprise. The less South Africa produces across various sectors, the less money is made and the more the rand weakens. The more the rand weakens, the harder it is to turn a profit as a local business and enough local business closing affects the rand further.

The hardest hit are undoubtedly the SMEs. The last time load shedding rolled around, SMEs voted load shedding the number one risk to small businesses in the 2015 SME survey. We can see why – numerous businesses have had to close down or scale back on operations due to loadshedding. They are the least likely to have generators and adequate insurance cover and the most dependent on the customers and vital profits likely to leave when the lights go out.

Cost to you as an individual

Because it affects the rand, long term savings vehicles like your investment portfolio or retirement fund is also almost definitely affected by load shedding – and for those very near retirement that can be a bitter pill to swallow indeed.
Food and steel-related products may also become more expensive, as manufacturers and farmers are feeling the pinch just like every other industry and may be forced t ratchet their prices up accordingly.

Large companies facing crippling increases in the cost of doing business may also roll out mass retrenchment if load shedding is not put to rights.

Remember, despite any short-term problems in the market like load shedding and its effects, it is still not wise to make financial decisions which may affect your portfolio based on impulse and emotion and without the advice of a trained financial advisor.

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