“Eskom plays a critical role in the life of South Africa, and life of South Africans. Due to its important role in the economy, its inability to provide electricity on demand and on time is a crisis.” (President Cyril Ramaphosa)
The South African Reserve Bank’s Financial Sector Contingency Forum (FSCF) has recently encouraged South African businesses to develop plans for operation at stage 8 load-shedding levels and a total countrywide blackout. While it has tempered this warning by saying that total blackout is an improbable scenario (with a chance of 0.1% to 1% of happening), it’s not an impossible one. The FSCF does however, think that businesses would be prudent to prepare nonetheless, particularly given the very real possibility of load-shedding levels that could see power being shut off for 12 hours a day or more. Here is how businesses can make that happen.
The first step is for your business to analyse exactly how a critical power failure or extended loss of power would impact you. Would it be a shutdown of production or a loss of e-commerce sales? Would information loss be important, or do you still need to communicate with clients? Understanding this will inform the rest of the process.
Talk to your bank, investors and insurance companies to fully understand what can be done at the moment of shutdown to ensure continued operations and put risk financing in place to make sure you can cover costs in the event of grid collapse. If you have insurance, you need to know if they cover blackouts and what you need to do when that occurs to ensure they provide assistance. Make sure you have a hard copy of the policy accessible even when the power goes out. We are no longer at the stage where blackouts can be considered “unforeseen”, which means your insurer will have requirements for your preparation in such an event if you expect them to pay out.
Set your computers to autosave and back up all necessary information to the cloud regularly.
Alternate Power Sources
While it may not be feasible to run the whole business on alternate power indefinitely, you should at least provide UPS units at key positions such as Wi-Fi to ensure that when the power goes out you can still save the necessary work, run billing, or ring up customer sales. Also turn off and unplug all sensitive equipment so that the surge of returning power does not damage equipment.
In the event of a total collapse, businesses may be wiser to shut down entirely. With both fires and crime expected to dramatically increase at that time it’s important to prepare an evacuation plan for your building or factory and shut off all electricity points at the mains. Ensure your property is safe, even when electric fences and CCTV are off.
Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.