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As an ethical outsourcing company with support teams across the globe, Boldr has made a point of understanding country-specific employment regulations and related nuances. Beyond this, we also had to stay abreast of current affairs, particularly where it could negatively impact our operations or our ability to provide uninterrupted support for our clients. In South Africa, we had to find creative ways to curtail load-shedding interruptions.

Shedding light on South Africa’s load shedding

Anyone who has engaged with teams, prospects, or companies in South Africa, has probably encountered load shedding in some way. But what exactly is this phenomenon called load shedding? How does it affect locals? And what impact does it hold for those hoping to leverage a global team comprising South African team members?

On the surface, load shedding can be described as a series of scheduled national power cuts (or rolling blackouts) which is meant to regulate the rate of electricity consumption. To fully appreciate the dynamic of load shedding, it’s best to understand its history and how it came to be a daily reality.

Eskom, the sole producer of electricity in South Africa, was established in 1923. It flourished as a state-owned enterprise and quickly found itself among the upper echelons of global power utilities. However, Eskom began its slow decline in the 1990s.

In 1998, a team of analysts reported that South Africa had to improve its aging coal-fired power plants because it was on the brink of an energy crisis. South Africa’s impending energy crisis took a turn for the worse when Eskom was forced to begin implementing load-shedding measures in 2007. This was done to curb the strain on their infrastructure because its energy-generating capacity could no longer meet the increasing national demand.


The impact of load shedding

For global workers operating from South Africa, it has interrupted numerous remote meetings, whether in the form of candle-lit faces, screens instantly wrapped in darkness, or an attendee suddenly disappearing while their UPS power supply kicks in to reboot a wifi-router.


Earlier this year there were times when South Africans experienced 6 to 10 hours of downtime a day. While it can be a hurdle for families when it comes to morning and evening routines, such as food preparations or school obligations, business owners resorted to on-site fuel-run generators or battery-operated inverters to keep their business afloat. Load shedding has directly impacted the way of doing business in the country, but the South African spirit is an enduring one that finds ways to overcome trials and rise above challenges.


The different stages of load shedding:

The severity of load shedding is expressed in stages of 1000 MegaWatt (MW) per stage, where stage 1 has much less impact than stage 6. While the proposed stages are a bit of a mystery, with a likelihood of multiple stages happening in one day, the below table serves as a rough guideline:


Operational excellence is a non-negotiable

We firmly believe that maintaining operations is critical to achieving customer satisfaction. Not only do we have service-level agreements in place to ensure that we meet our client’s goals, but we are equally motivated to deliver on the promises we make to our clients at the onset of a partnership. Our ability to remain operational regardless of challenges, along with our ability to scale or pivot to our client’s needs, has contributed largely to our successes as a business.

While there are limited ways for businesses or households to negotiate the electricity constraints, it’s best not to have a glum outlook. At Boldr, we have taken a more proactive and pragmatic approach to load shedding, because there is no reason for productivity loss to our clients. This is how we support our teams:

  • Office operations have done extensive pre-planning. We have prepared our teams for longer blackout periods, which included regular communications.
  • Our offices have a stable power alternative in place to ensure business continuity and provide a safe space for teams to engage in their work.
  • Our South African team members in a remote or hybrid working arrangement have been issued laptops that can maintain 2 consecutive hours of battery life at a time.
  • Many team members have UPS power supply systems to cover the blocks where load shedding stretches on for 4 consecutive hours.
  • In instances where there is not enough time between load-shedding periods to properly recharge, team members can request an onsite workstation and other office facilities they could need to provide uninterrupted support to our clients. We have also supported our teams by arranging additional transport for those who need to be in the office.

South Africa remains a prime outsourcing location regardless of the complications brought on by load shedding. The warm and engaging nature of its locals, the time zone advantage, and an abundance of hidden talent make the country a unique outsourcing alternative. We have successfully created cost-effective solutions for our clients while simultaneously creating career opportunities in South Africa through impact sourcing. If you need help building a global team with a contingent in South Africa, then let us handle the intricacies of the employment process for you. Reach out to us here for a free consultation.


James Fouche is the Content Manager at Boldr, as well as an author and a columnist. He is passionate about sharing his love of reading and writing with others.