I was on Newzroom Afrika on Saturday, speaking about the sharing economy (the topic of my PhD) as a potential solution to load shedding for small, medium and micro enterprises in South Africa. The interview was triggered by the sharing economy article my PhD supervisor and I wrote for The Conversation.
Thank you, Keneilwe Sebola and Newzroom Afrika, for the opportunity. To my brilliant supervisor, Prof Tankiso Moloi, I appreciate your guidance, support and brilliance.
Small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in South Africa face numerous challenges in their daily operations, and one of the most significant challenges they face is power outages. These outages, commonly referred to as load shedding, can result in lost revenue and customers, leaving SMMEs vulnerable to closure. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the sharing economy as a potential solution for various industries.
In the recent interview on Newzroom Afrika, I spoke about the potential of the sharing economy as a solution for SMMEs in South Africa. As a candidate in a PhD specialising in digital transformation (through the sharing economy), I highlighted how sharing energy generation infrastructure like mobile battery storage units, portable generators, and solar panels can help SMMEs reduce operational costs and increase resilience in the face of power cuts.
The sharing economy, based on sharing and collaborating through digital platforms within a community with similar characteristics, has been successful in other parts of the world, and there are now several sharing economy platforms that focus on energy infrastructure. The SonnenCommunity, for example, is a platform that enables its members to share excess energy generated by solar panels, reducing costs and increasing energy independence.
Gridmate is another example of a successful sharing economy platform that focuses on energy infrastructure. The platform enables users to share energy with their neighbours during power outages, providing a reliable source of electricity during times of need.
For the sharing economy to work effectively, communities setting up these arrangements must be in close proximity to one another. This means that sharing economy platforms can be particularly useful for businesses operating in disadvantaged communities that face additional challenges in accessing energy due to location, limited infrastructure, financial constraints, and other factors.
In the article I co-authored with my PhD supervisor, Prof Tankiso Moloi, we highlight how the sharing economy can help SMEs in South Africa connect with other businesses in their community, creating new opportunities for collaboration and partnerships. By sharing resources and equipment, SMMEs can reduce their operational costs and increase their resilience in the face of power outages.
In conclusion, SMMEs in South Africa face numerous challenges, including power outages, which can have a significant impact on their daily operations. The sharing economy provides a potential solution for SMMEs to minimise disruptions caused by power cuts by sharing energy generation infrastructure like mobile battery storage units, portable generators, and solar panels. By working together and sharing resources, SMMEs can reduce their operational costs and increase their resilience, creating a more sustainable and robust business environment.