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Load shedding will hurt SA's economic growth, say economists

While economists and business leaders agree that it is difficult to quantify exactly how much turnover has been lost by business due to load shedding, there is consensus that the amount runs into billions of rands.

FILE: Business owners close up shop as Eskom implements load shedding. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - While economists and business leaders agree that it is difficult to quantify exactly how much turnover has been lost by business due to load shedding, there is consensus that the amount runs into billions of rands.

Eskom has admitted that it is battling to keep the lights on due to a lack of diesel, along with financial and structural problems.

The country has seen stage four load shedding since last week, with no end in sight.

Standard Bank chief economist Goolam Ballim says that as the lights fade, so are the hopes of the country's projected overall growth rising to new levels.

"It seems plausible that economic growth in 2019 willl be below 1%."

Business Unity CEO Tanya Cohen says that Eskom needs to come up with a concrete plan.

"We think that we really need a concrete plan as a country, we need to have very clear communication, in terms of what the steps are that are being taken by Eskom, and we think that certainly a realistic view of load shedding is required."

Meanwhile, Eskom has denied reports that it has started planning for stage 5 and 6 load shedding, as it struggles to keep the country's lights on.

Fin24 reported on Tuesday that officials had started preparations for stage 5 and 6 which would imply shedding 5,000 and 6,000 megawatts, respectively.

• How to check your load-shedding schedule

However, Eskom’s Andrew Etzinger said they hoped to take load shedding to a lower stage over the next few days.

"Eskom is implementing stage 4 load shedding with no requirement to take that beyond stage 4, but media reports are to the contrary. There’s no requirement at this stage to escalate to stage 5 and 6."

Additional reporting by Katleho Sekhotho.

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