Telecoms body concerned about prospect of worsening loadshedding in colder months

2nd June 2023

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


Font size: - +

The Association of Comms and Technology (ACT) is calling for urgent regulatory and government action on the loadshedding crisis in South Africa fearing that the impact on an already hard-hit information and communication technology (ICT) sector will worsen during the colder months, when, invariably, loadshedding is more severe.

ACT expressed deep concern about the worsening loadshedding crisis in South Africa as mobile network operators battle to provide consistent, reliable communications services for citizens and businesses amid the outages.

“Heightened and sustained levels of loadshedding in recent times have already resulted in a record quantum of energy shed by South Africa’s power utility Eskom in a calendar year – and we are yet to reach halfway through 2023,” the industry association said in the statement.

Over the last few months, South Africa’s mobile network operators have increasingly voiced their concerns, with many stating that batteries are not coping with prolonged periods and higher stages ofloadshedding, despite having proactively spent billions of rands on backup power solutions to ensure network resilience, stability and continuity.

Mobile operators have invested in battery, generator and alternate backup power solutions at the tens of thousands of base station sites across South Africa to enhance network resilience during loadshedding and deployed “backups for the backup”, using thousands of mobile generators to power sites and recharge batteries at critical towers, data centres and customer service centres.

During power interruptions, the towers remain functional for as long as the batteries last or the backup generator keeps running and, while network operators have extensive battery backup facilities at a significant proportion of their base stations, the higher stages of loadshedding prevent the batteries from recharging fully.

Further, since Eskom ramped up loadshedding over the past three years, the mobile operators have seen a spike in incidents of theft and vandalism of their infrastructure, as criminals and criminal syndicates find it easier to access the infrastructure under the cover of darkness.

All these investments, the ACT said, could have been better spent on accelerating rural coverage, fast-tracking fifth-generation 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 government and regulators take immediate and effective action to address the power crisis and network security, as well as the issue of economic sabotage of physical infrastructure by outlining a comprehensive plan to address the problem.”


outlined several steps that can be taken to mitigate the effects of loadshedding on the sector and the economy, including the consideration of a diesel rebate to ensure that the high cost of diesel does not unduly burden the sector’s commercial operations.

“Our members have been forced to re-allocate their yearly expenditure to deal with loadshedding, which is unsustainable in the long term, given the high cost of diesel,” it explained.

Further, there is a need for the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition to urgently publish block exemptions regulation to allow competitors to coordinate their solutions to the loadshedding crisis, such as collaborating on using common power sources and sharing security on co-located sites.

Other steps include designating the industry in terms of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act 8 of 2019 and acknowledging its importance as a national strategic asset that society relies heavily on and increasing penalties for economic sabotage of physical infrastructure, including fines and prison sentences, to deter individuals and organisations from engaging in such activities.

“The economic sabotage of physical infrastructure continues to have a significant impact on mobile network operators in South Africa. Theft and vandalism of telecommunications infrastructure, such as towers, base stations and fibre-optic cables, compounds the disruption of network coverage and service, resulting in loss of revenue for the economy as a whole as well as the mobile network operators.”

The ACT further suggested regulatory relief, including allowing mobile network operators to temporarily increase their network capacity through the provision of temporal spectrum and relaxing regulatory obligations which are arduous to comply with in the current environment.

It also requested greater warning when there will be changes in loadshedding stages, so that operators are able to better plan logistically and effectively mobilise resources .

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor



Environmental Assurance (Pty) Ltd.
Environmental Assurance (Pty) Ltd.

ENVASS is a customer and solutions-driven environmental consultancy with established divisions, serviced by highly qualified and experienced...


We are dedicated to business excellence and innovation.


Latest Multimedia

sponsored by

Option 1 (equivalent of R125 a month):

Receive a weekly copy of Creamer Media's Engineering News & Mining Weekly magazine
(print copy for those in South Africa and e-magazine for those outside of South Africa)
Receive daily email newsletters
Access to full search results
Access archive of magazine back copies
Access to Projects in Progress
Access to ONE Research Report of your choice in PDF format

Option 2 (equivalent of R375 a month):

All benefits from Option 1
Access to Creamer Media's Research Channel Africa for ALL Research Reports, in PDF format, on various industrial and mining sectors including Electricity; Water; Energy Transition; Hydrogen; Roads, Rail and Ports; Coal; Gold; Platinum; Battery Metals; etc.

Already a subscriber?

Forgotten your password?







sq:0.055 0.09s - 92pq - 2rq
Subscribe Now