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Power cuts depress ICT sector as winter sets in

JOHANNESBURG – THE Association of Comms and Technology (ACT) has called for urgent regulatory and government action on the worsening load shedding crisis in South Africa.

Concerned about the issue, ACT noted heightened and sustained levels of load shedding in recent times had already resulted in a record quantum of energy shed by power utility Eskom in a calendar year – and the country is yet to reach halfway through 2023.

The association bemoaned that invariably, load shedding is more severe during the colder months, which means that the impact on an already hard-hit ICT sector is likely to worsen.

“This will make it increasingly difficult for mobile network operators to keep people and businesses connected – despite having made substantial investments in back-up power solutions to improve network resilience during load shedding,” ACT noted.

The organisation argued naturally, these investments could have been better spent on accelerating rural coverage, fast tracking fifth-generation (5G) adoption and further addressing the cost to communicate in South Africa.

“So that further funds are not diverted from their intended purpose, it is crucial that the government and regulators take immediate and effective action to address the power crisis, network security as well as the issue of economic sabotage of physical infrastructure by outlining a comprehensive plan to address the problem.”

ACT has recommended several steps to mitigate the effects of load shedding on the sector and economy.

This includes considering the provision of a diesel rebate to ensure that the high cost of diesel does not unduly burden the sector’s commercial operations and compelling the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition to urgently publish the block exemptions regulations to allow competitors to coordinate on finding solutions to the crisis.

ACT recommends increasing penalties for economic sabotage of physical infrastructure and providing regulatory relief.

ACT’s members are mobile network operators.

South Africa is experiencing its worst power outages, currently at so-called State 6.

Power can be disconnected for up to ten hours daily. Some areas have gone for months without reconnection.

– CAJ News

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