South Africa

Power crisis untenable – Mr Price Chairman

South African retailer Mr Price Group is rolling out backup power to all its stores, as the company’s chairman called the country’s current electricity shortage untenable.

The Durban-based specialist in mid-range apparel, sports goods, and homeware said on Friday it is on track to reach its target of backup power in 70% of its South African stores by the end of this financial year in March, and in 100% of shops “as soon as possible thereafter.”

While this is adequate for a certain threshold of blackouts, the plans are under review due to the recent intensity levels, Mr Price said in a trading update.

“It is critical for government to communicate its official and detailed plan for the solution to the energy crisis in South Africa, in order to protect and grow the economy and for businesses to plan accordingly,” said Chairman Nigel Payne.

“The current situation is untenable, and government needs to take decisive action and to be held accountable for implementation.”

Power utility Eskom has rationed electricity for 82 consecutive days, with up to 12 hours of daily blackouts last week and earlier this week.

President Cyril Ramaphosa cancelled his attendance at this year’s World Economic Forum to deal with the crisis and had emergency meetings with Eskom officials, but the government and the power company have not officially communicated what they plan to do.

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