I recently co-authored my first article for The Conversation, a non-profit, independent news organisation that publishes news analysis and commentary written by academic experts from around the world.
The article, co-authored with my PhD supervisor, discusses the potential of the sharing economy to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa minimise disruptions caused by power outages.
SMEs make up a significant portion of the total number of companies globally, and major disruptions like COVID-19 and geo-political tensions affect them more than larger enterprises. Power outages in South Africa pose a significant risk to SMEs, as they cannot operate, leading to revenue and customer loss.
The concept of the sharing economy, based on sharing and collaborating through digital platforms within a community with similar characteristics, can help SMEs share energy generation infrastructure like mobile battery storage units, portable generators, and solar panels.
Sharing resources and equipment can reduce operational costs and increase resilience in the face of power cuts, and help SMEs connect with other businesses in their community, creating new opportunities for collaboration and partnerships.
The article provides examples of successful sharing economy platforms like SonnenCommunity and Gridmate and explains that for the sharing economy to work, communities setting up this arrangement must be in close proximity to one another. The sharing economy 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.