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Business confidence improves despite power issues

Sacci's business confidence index says there was a noticeable improvement for November.

FILE: Business confidence has improved despite poor power supply and a number of challenges facing the economy. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Business confidence has improved despite poor power supply and a number of challenges facing the economy.

The South Africa's Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci)'s latest business confidence index says there has been a noticeable improvement for November.

The index has gained two points from 88.8 in October to 90.8 in November after recording very low levels over the past couple of months, particularly in July when it recorded 87.9 points.

Sacci says it's relieved that the despairing mood in the business environment may be dissipating.

But it says challenges including further power shortages could trigger another bout of poor confidence.

It also warned that a slowdown in the economies of major trading partners and low commodity prices could also negatively affect the business climate.

But despite this, it hopes that the upward trend will continue.

At the same time, Eskom earlier warned that the risk of load shedding is extremely high and rolling blackouts may take place later this week or over the weekend.

South Africa has already experienced load shedding for two consecutive weekends due to unforeseen outages at some plants, maintenance issues as well as limited diesel and water reserves.

The utility has been battling with generating capacity and says the situation will only stabilise once more power plants are brought online.

Eskom's Andrew Etzinger said the power system is extremely tight.

"While we are hoping to avoid load shedding today there certainly a moderate to high probability of load shedding later this week."

The utility is using the open gas turbines and pump storage facilities extensively during the week to keep the lights on when businesses operate.

Near the end of the week, diesel and water reserves are expected to start running low and the probability for load shedding at the weekend then becomes a risk.

When businesses start closing in mid-December, the power grid is expected to stabilise somewhat with a lower demand for electricity.

The country experienced the second consecutive weekend of rolling blackouts at the weekend.

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