South Africa is facing a major electricity crisis, sometimes with no power for almost six hours a day. It is also affecting small business owners struggling to survive and forced to make hard choices.
"We can run the store which is good, but we can't run the whole store, and it's affecting sales because customers tend to buy less because they are worried about their fridges at home. We deal with fresh stuff so it does not last long," said Joe, a store owner.
The outages which have lasted for more than 200 days since last year have piled misery on the 60 million South Africans struggling with high unemployment, poverty and rising cost of living.
"How do I pay my workers, how do I pay my rental, how do I go forward buying stock? Very difficult. It put me through a stressful time, and I am being honest, no lies about it, very stressful where I ended up having a heart attack due to the stress," said Abdul Ally, owner of a pizzeria.
Businesses are still counting on losses as most perishable goods go at a waste. They’ve had to throw them away leading to massive losses.
"The load shedding is affecting us too much, because our stock is going rotten, our vegetables are going rotten. We have to throw almost every day the rotten stuff," said Honest Moyo , general worker in a vegetable store.
The crisis is braking growth just as South Africa, the continent's most industrialised economy, is hoping to recover after the Covid pandemic.
Growth is expected to be an anaemic 0.3 percent in 2023, down from 2.5 percent last year.