South Africa’s Electricity Crisis – Update

My South Africa’s Electricity Crisis post has turned out to be one of the more popular ones on this site, so with there being significant developments in the ongoing saga, I thought I’d update you, the 6000 miles… reading public, with the latest news.

As from Monday, we now have pre-emptive load shedding. Which means that now we are told in advance via schedules when our electricity will be cut and we can plan around it. We can pre-empt the pre-emptive load shedding, if you will. This makes things a whole lot easier. In fact, when you know that you’ll have no power for two hours at 10am on a Tuesday, you can work through almost seamlessly.
But it’s still not enough for some people.

The recent change in tactics comes simply because people in South Africa have not saved enough electricity to avoid mandatory power cuts. We were asked as electricity consumers to save 10%, we didn’t – it’s that straightforward.
It has polarised public opinion, according to the media. As a country, we are now split into two groups (something we’re rather used to here in SA) – the Savers and the Moaners.
This is actually not strictly accurate: there is the third group – quite a large group – which never had the luxury of electricity to begin with. I hesitate to call them the Dark People for obvious reasons. Anyway, they don’t count here, apparently.

The Savers (and I count myself among this group) cut down their electricity use. We installed energy saving CFL lightbulbs, we switched our geysers (water heaters) off for several hours each day, we stopped using standby on the TV etc etc.

The Moaners (quite rightly) blamed Eskom and the Government for the crisis and refused to do anything to help. Consequently, despite the best efforts of the Savers, we are back onto not having any power at certain times of the week.  And this time, it isn’t the fault of Eskom or Government, it’s the fault of the Moaners. Because you see, they had the opportunity to avoid this situation but they chose not to.
Instead, they keep working on their time machines in an effort to go back to 1998 and pre-empt the whole thing. Which obviously won’t work, because if they had managed it, we wouldn’t be having the problems now. Although there’s always the chance that they might stop their parents from ever meeting, which would be a welcome development (if you enjoyed Back to the Future trilogy, you’ll understand where I’m coming from).

Look, it’s not an ideal situation, but at least it’s an improvement on what we had before. What irritates me is that with a little more public buy-in, it could have been even better. We could have avoided having power cuts at all, but you people thought it was better to whinge than to actually do something about it. And guess what, judging by what I’ve heard on the TV and radio, you still think it’s better to whinge than to actually do something about it. Idiots.

Finally – “just” 800 days until the start of the 2010 World Cup and every one of our stadiums is on or ahead of schedule. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Wembley. 

  • I so agree with you about the moaners. I was at the house of a moaner a couple of months ago. They had every single light (no energy saver bulbs there either) on in the house, 2 x geysers and dishwasher going like bats out of hell, dinner cooked on every plate of the cooker and the oven too. Two tvs blaring (no one watching) and three computers around the house on standby (no one attending there either). They kept saying “someone” should DO something about this electricity crisis, its not acceptable!!! I have reduced my usage so much just by switching off the geyser from 5.00 a.m. to 7.00 p.m, energy saving lights and a small gas picnic stove or microwave or electric steamer do me for cooking. I have saved much more than 10%. South Africans are just not any good at helping themselves and each other – they sit around waiting for “someone” to see to it for them!

  • Rob

    Pretty much spot on from 6000 and charmskool really. Us SAfricans are very, very good at bemoaning our fate and doing sod all to help it. I’ve also reduced usage by a huge chunk and it annoys me no-end that I’m still going to be without power tonight between 20:00 and 22:30.

  • charmskool – I had dinner with some friends about a month ago. 6 of us there. Everyone was moaning, but not one of them had done ANYTHING to save electricity. Grr.

    Rob – Now that would hurt – right in the middle of Arsenal v Liverpool UEFA Champions League match.
    We get a couple of hours off on a Tuesday lunchtime. Woo.

  • Interesting stuff, 6000. The UK will be going the same way before too long. I buy electricity for a retailer in the UK, spending around £4M per year. Peanuts compared to someone like Tesco but still a reasonable amount of volume. It won’t be long before we’re seeing brown-outs and pre-emptive load shedding. If we’d had a hard winter it might even have been this year.

  • You really have had your thinking cap on haven’t you 6k? Thanks for sharing these important ideas with us.

  • Oi whinger! Stop whinging about the moaners and do something productive 😛
    So what about people like me who saved AND moaned? Because honestly, I think I have every right as a paying customer who’s doing my bit to bitch when I still get nailed 😉

    Oh and I told you the blog awards were a bunch of [testicles].

  • Too right about the moaners and i really try not to be one of them.
    While i did stop using my dishwasher and tried to switch of the geyser and lights its hard with a six month old in the house. The situation is made worse by the rain we are having in joburg and im not trying to defend my actions but i did keep all the washing for the days we have sun except the babies stuff for obviouse smelly reasons i have to use the dryer for that when it rains. i feel sorry for eskom as they have become the fall guys for something that could haave been avoided if we had been given the time to change our habits (dont know if most people in sa would have believed it though?) I am willing to accept the need for the load shedding if the schedules were kept to which in our area they are not. We have not had street lights for more than a month and a half and im happy to sacrifice that ‘safety’ aspect if they could just stick to the schedule.
    Isnt it funny that the biggest moaners are the ones not even pretending to make an effort to make a change??

  • Fleet – is it really that bad over there? They keep it quite well hidden.

    Judeye – Indeed. And thanks for making the world a brighter place by taking the time to leave such an incisive comment.

    Goblin – Ah – a foot in both camps. So what’s stopping you from removing the foot from the negative camp, then? Also, you know that when your electricity is load-shod that you don’t pay for it, don’t you? 😉

    Mizasiwa – It sounds to me like you’re doing more than most, so I wouldn’t worry about using the drier when it’s raining. Junior’s health must come first!
    Hopefully the new schedules will be kept to – ours in Cape Town have been so far anyway. And maybe you should chat to the council about the street lights – that sounds like a separate issue to me.

  • Thank you for a very informative well written post 6000. I have read many moaners blogs on the topic and have never really understood the whole situation in South Africa. I never experienced this when I was home. Hoping to come home for the World Cup! Yay!

  • Natalie – You know, I think that is more than half the problem with this country. That the negative people are far more willing to speak out than those who are happy here and can see the good side of things. I do get the feeling that the tide is turning though. Slowly, but I think that the renaissance is just around the corner.
    See you in 2010!

  • good idea – if your post topic’s a winner, run with it. take ‘facebook exes’ or ‘ass’ on the globus blog for instance. threads which will definitely be expanded on, with globus delighted he’s contributing so much of intellectual value to the blogosphere.

    globus lives in the country and juice failures are quite common. but then we have no crime, plenty of candles, and this nice bumpkin way of life, so we don’t care 🙂

  • hank

    Amen, Mr 6000.

    You absolutely nailed it. If only SA’s world class whingers channeled their energies into actually doing something about the problem rather than complaining about it, they would have a lot less to complain about. Hmmm, maybe that’s the rub? If they had nothing to complain about, what WOULD they actually talk about?

    Sometimes in SA we can feel quite, ahem, powerless in the face of some our biggest challenges, but the solution to this electricity crisis is well and truly in our hands. How we each choose to respond to that says a lot about who we are as individuals and as a nation.

    Fleet of Worlds – is the UK really staring down the barrel of electricity shortages?

  • Feeling a bit tetchy aintcha?

    I am a saver … I am.

    Brilliant post.

    SA Blog Awards: The whole thing was rigged. It was!

  • Globus – Maybe I should start an ass section. And your comments about how great you life is don’t really tie in with your last post, now do they, Mr Rant? 😉

    Hank – If they weren’t complaining about electricity, it would be crime and Zuma. There’s an official list of the order of complaints somewhere so that white dinner party conversation never runs dry.

    Bridget – I’m permenently tetchy. It’s in my genes.

    Pamela – Oh – we’ve had schedules for a long time, but they’ve only been when the electricity MIGHT go off and they weren’t accurate at all. Now they are when the electricity WILL go off. And they’re sticking to them, which is great. PE leading the way? Come now… back to reality please!

  • Daxk

    Nice post 6k,lad to see the new fellows have read their Marketing case studies,When the Dairy Board of sarf Effrika were attacked by the Floro Margerine campaign on a heart attack basis,They lost 60% market share, quickly.
    Clever fellows did not agonise and try and convince that you at least died happy, they just doubled the price and sold of the surplus already paid for at a discount.
    So, you get less Electricity, pay the same or more, feel guilty because you could have done more and once more, its the consumers fault!!
    Even if you all saved 20% there’s still not enough.
    Do you really think Poggenpoel over at Megawatt Park is going to say well Done !! we wont cut it off till 10.10 this Tuesday.
    They cock up, SA mostly gets behind them,guess what?
    It’s now someone elses fault, they have’nt turned off their pool pump.
    PS:the Eskom provided lights are burning in Zimbabwe tonight and they have’nt paid for electricity in years!!!
    Notice friend 6k has’nt commented on wether the same damagement should be getting performance bonuses?

  • Daxk – Thanks for your comment. However, I absolutely stand by the fact that this round of load shedding COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED if people had saved electricity instead of just moaning and carrying on with their wasteful lifestyles.
    Do you really think load shedding is GOOD for Eskom? They’re losing millions every day of this because they can’t sell what they don’t provide.

    SA has NOT got mostly behind them – that’s precisely the problem. The point is that there is no quick fix, so do we actually do something proactive to alleviate the problem or do we sit here in the darkness and complain. Which makes the difference? Which is better?

    And, just to make my view crystal clear on this issue, there is no way that Eskom bosses should be seeing any performance-related bonuses this year.

    Comrade 6k out. 🙂

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