The most severe power cuts ever experienced in South Africa are threatening food and water supplies and disrupting the lives of millions of people, including chicken farmers.
In the poultry industry, electricity outages have forced factories to pause round-the-clock operations for as long as half a day at a time. As a result, over 10 million birds designated for slaughter are still alive and consuming feed, creating a backlog that companies fear they won’t be able to fix.

“We actually have enough chickens on farms around the country, but we can’t supply the market because we can’t slaughter the chickens,” Izaak Breitenbach, Chief Executive Officer of the South African Poultry Association, said in an interview.

As a stopgap measure, producers have begun using generators, which cost the industry about 75 cents above the normal price of production per kilogram of chicken.

In response to these pressures, KFC temporarily shuttered some of the 750 fried chicken restaurants it operates in the country at the end of last year.

Chicken is one of the most affordable sources of animal protein in South Africa, and as the country battles a cost-of-living crisis — the central bank’s 2023 forecast for food price inflation was recently raised to 6.2% — a sharp price increase could render it beyond many people’s means. Last year, producers raised poultry prices by 17%.

This is just one example of how the energy crisis is roiling the continent’s most industrialized economy.

Agriculture Suffers

Over the last 15 years, Eskom, which provides 90% of all of South Africa’s electricity, has kept its grid from collapsing by cutting power when it has been unable to meet demand. Known locally as “load shedding,” these planned blackouts mainly affected mining operations and heavy industry until last year, when they became much more widespread.

As the utility has struggled under a leadership crisis, its assets have deteriorated from age, lack of maintenance and even vandalism, all of which pushed outages to record levels in 2022.
If outages continue at those levels, said Chris Hattingh, Head of Policy Analysis at the Centre for Risk Analysis, South Africa’s GDP growth this year will likely be capped at 1.5%.

The blackouts have created problems at every step of the agricultural production chain, affecting crop irrigation, processing and storage. Stores have also taken costly measures to keep produce from spoiling on shelves.

Some of the country’s biggest food retailers, Shoprite and Woolworths, have increased investment in standby generators, rooftop solar panels and refrigerated trailer trucks. But smaller businesses haven’t had opportunities to adapt.

The Sowetan, a local newspaper, addressed a cover story to President Cyril Ramaphosa that listed dozens of small companies “crippled by every failed promise to fix Eskom.”
Among those affected are farmers in the Northern Cape province, who are already suffering under massive heat waves that have seen temperatures in some areas edge toward 117 degrees. Without energy, they can’t irrigate their crops, which include thirsty citrus trees.

“If you don’t have enough electricity, you don’t have enough water,” said Nicol Jansen, president of Agri Northern Cape, adding that cash crops such as soybeans are also vulnerable. “We urgently need more electricity in the irrigation areas.”

Dirty Beaches

Other sectors have also been affected. For months, municipal and provincial authorities and utilities have urged consumers to cut back on water usage, as a lack of electricity can prevent stations that pump water through pipes from operating at full capacity.

In Cape Town, at the height of the holiday tourism season, public warnings were issued to avoid sections of the beach that had been closed due to sewage spills after wastewater pumps broke down. To avoid these kinds of situations, the city initiated plans last year to procure renewable energy from independent producers.

“The most profound effect is major stress on all of our infrastructure,” Geordin Hill-Lewis, Cape Town’s mayor and a member of the opposition Democratic Alliance, said of the outages.

Stopgap Solution

As South Africa’s government has been delayed in its efforts to increase the amount of electricity it buys from private suppliers, diesel-powered generators remain the last line of defence against electricity shortages. Yet Eskom has repeatedly run down diesel supplies and exhausted its budget to buy more.

The cost has been significant. Shoprite, for example, is currently spending an extra R100 million per month on diesel to keep the lights on in its stores.

Hattingh, the risk analyst, is worried that the current situation is not sustainable. With the vast majority of South Africans struggling with higher costs, the “average feeling is things are teetering on the precipice.”

Source: Bloomberg. South Africa Energy Crisis becoming an everything crisis. [Online]. Available at: everything-crisis/ [Accessed 20 January 2023].

The Scenario

The current energy crisis and load shedding in South Africa is forecast to continue for at least two years. There are few brands and businesses that are not impacted – negatively or positively.

At the same time, brands all over the world are taking advantage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the many global trends predicted to provide opportunities for growth in 2023 and beyond.

You are required to write an integrated essay considering the impact of the energy crisis on brands operating in South Africa, relevant prevailing and predicted global trends, and the ways of thinking required for brand-business success.

The Task You will identify either a place brand OR a services brand operating in South Africa and address the following:

Section 1: Trend and Situation Analysis (Marks: 40)

“Load shedding is killing business. South African brands won’t keep up with the fourth industrial revolution and will lose out on opportunities presented by global trends.” (Anon, 2023.)

You must source at least three credible reports forecasting the trends likely to impact brands (and your brand category in particular) in 2023 and beyond.
In addition, you will source three articles on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and consider the way in which it is impacting your category.

You will integrate this information into an essay discussing the key opportunities and threats facing your brand, in context of the energy crisis in South Africa. For example, are there opportunities that will be negatively impacted? Are there threats that can be converted into opportunities? Are there trends that South African brands may ‘miss out’ on due to the energy crisis? Focus on the most important dimensions.
This section should not exceed 3000 words (excluding the Annexure).

You will be assessed on your ability to think critically and on your academic writing.

Submission: Essay + 2 Prototypes
An essay/argument is carefully planned and ‘prototyped’ as a rough mind map before you start writing.
• You will submit the first iteration of this mind map as an ICE task. (Your navigator will advise you of the submission date.) The mind map will change as you read more and develop your argument and will be a ‘work in progress’ as you move through the stages of your assignment.
• The first iteration (ICE task version (Prototype A) AND the final iteration that provided the framework for your essay (Prototype B) must be submitted as Appendices A and B to your essay, in the form of photographs (jpegs) taken of the physical mind-maps you have drawn, or pdfs of digital mind-maps you have created.
• Prototypes must be clearly labelled.

Section 2: Ways of Thinking (Marks: 60)

Brand builders think about the energy crisis in different ways to find solutions and/or opportunities. You will write an essay in which you integrate the following:

a. Source at least three journal articles and write an integrated explanation of at least three ways of thinking and build an argument as to how they can be applied to the energy crisis in general.

b. In section 1 you considered your brand category. Progress this discussion by explaining how the energy crisis impacts your specific brand. You will use systemic thinking to develop this argument, which you will illustrate with a causal loop diagram, to be submitted as Appendix C.

c. You will then explain how you would use design thinking to develop an innovative solution for your brand that takes advantage of a global/industry trend or trends whilst facing the realities of the energy crisis (which is a wicked problem). Again, you will be thinking systemically, whilst explaining specifically how you would apply the design thinking process step-by-step. For example, exactly who would you involve in the ideation? How exactly would you test the first iteration of your prototype?

d. It will be critical to follow a human-centered approach. Discuss one specific model that could be used to gain the necessary empathy and insights needed to understand a challenge requiring an innovative solution. Give specific examples of the methods or tools you could use to elicit understanding and develop empathy.

You many use any pre-designed free templates with the correct acknowledgements.
These templates are available on sites such as improvement-tools-and-templates-resource-center/design-thinking-tools-and-templates/ [Accessed: 8 February 2023].

This section should not exceed 3000 words (excluding the Annexures).
You will be assessed on your ability to think critically and systemically, whilst applying a process of design thinking.

Submission: Essay + Causal Loop Diagram
Document and Academic Writing (Marks: 20)

Submit well-written, logically structured, and grammatically correct essay/argument, supported by a wide range of correctly cited and referenced sources.

• Consult all prescribed readings and independently research other credible academic sources.
• The information sourced cannot simply be assembled or summarised: it must be analysed and integrated. Passively inserting quotes or information without actively engaging with the content is not sufficient to produce a scholarly argument.
• You may use additional information from websites, blogs, etcetera should you wish to do so, but ensure that these are reputable sources and correctly referenced.
• You must derive central insights from the study of multiple sources and integrate the ideas into a meaningful discussion.
• Based on solid and rigorous academic theory and frameworks, your arguments, statements, and conclusions must be fully substantiated.
• Pay attention to paraphrasing, integration, synthesis, and assimilation of the information you have sourced.
• Please ensure that you proofread your document and pay particular attention to grammar and syntax (sentence construction). South African English is to be used (American spelling constitutes spelling errors).
• Adhere strictly to The IIE Referencing Guide.

Answers to above questions on South Africa’s energy crisis

Answer 1:  An analysis on the given case study on severe power cuts in South Africa indicates that the problem is severe for the entire economy including the businesses and brands operating in South Africa. The agriculture industry in particular is suffering heavily and many of the producers have started using generators to power their production processes. In relation to this the brand that is selected in order to analyse the impact of the energy crisis in South Africa is Shoprite holdings. The ways in which a given situation of energy crisis would affect Shoprite holdings is critically analysed in this section.


Get completed answers on above questions on South Africa’s energy crisis and its impact on brand from the experts of Student Life Saviour in South Africa.

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