Load shedding is back in South Africa, and is affecting more than just our daily work schedule. According to provincial government, power cuts are costing the Western Cape millions per day, and matriculants are being literally left in the dark whilst writing their final exams.

According to David Maynier, Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Eskom’s stage 2 load shedding will cost the Western Cape economy an estimate of R150-million per day. Per stage, load shedding is estimated to cost the government R75 million daily.

“As the Western Cape Government, we have taken a number of actions to mitigate the impact of load shedding on the provincial economy, and build energy resilience, however, the cost of load shedding remains high, particularly for manufacturing in the Western Cape,” Maynier says.
“We also can’t ignore the impact of load shedding on households, small businesses and agriculture for example, which are forced to invest in alternative powers sources to build their resilience against energy failures. Furthermore, there is a large ‘uncounted cost’ of load shedding owing to the impact on market confidence,”Maynier adds.
Matriculants across the country are being negatively affected by load shedding as at least 30 exam centres in the Western Cape were left without light on Wednesday morning.
The Department of Basic Education responded to these reports, calling it extremely unfortunate.

“The extent of the impact has not been established as yet because we are waiting for provinces to report. We will provide an update at a later stage,” says Head of Communications Elijah Mhlanga. “We are monitoring the situation closely ourselves. We will look into the possibility of engaging Eskom with a view to alerting them to negative effect the power cuts may have on national exams.”

“We however have a backup exam which can be scheduled if there are candidates who are not able to write this exam. Contingency plans are always put in place to accommodate situations of this nature.”

Contingency plans include quarantining students until the electricity returns and providing technical assistance.

“The WCED is in constant communication with all the schools via their subject advisors to ensure that the exam is managed in consistent manner.” says Bronagh Hammond, Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson. “Our priority is to ensure that learners are not further disadvantaged as a result of these cuts. District staff have been on standby and are assisting schools that have been affected in monitoring the security protocols and the re-starting of the computer’s once the electricity comes back on.”

Eskom recently announced that South Africans can expect load shedding for the rest of the week as a result of constraints to the public enterprise’s power generation system.

In a press release, Eskom explained that load shedding is “conducted rotationally as a measure of last resort to protect the power system from a total collapse or blackout.”

The province is reportedly taking the lead in energy generation, according to the Democratic Alliance (DA).

“While most of the country will be experiencing stage 2, the DA-led City of Cape Town has through effective management been able to add additional generation capacity to the electricity grid so that City-supplied residents and businesses experience stage 1 load-shedding instead of stage 2. This means less frequent and shorter periods without power.”

Maynier reports that the Western Cape government is taking many other measures to improve the situation.

“The Western Cape Government has been building an energy secure province by diversifying our energy mix through the uptake of sustainable and low-carbon energy sources,” he says.

This includes the following measures:

– Installing electricity meters which allow for better consumption management in provincial buildings (this has helped reduce our electricity consumption by 13%, which is 38% below the industry benchmark)

– Encouraging energy efficiency through targeted campaigns

– Supporting the uptake of Solar photovoltaic (PV)

Picture: Pixabay

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