Sunday, 20 January 2008

The Powers that Be

It's interesting when things happen here to remind me that I am actually living in a (first world city in a) fairly third world country.

Due to foreseen (but somehow incompetently overlooked by the government) increases in the economy of South Africa since '94, the demand for electricity has skyrocketed. So much so, in fact, that the supply created by the electricity company, Eskom, is really no longer sufficient. So we've been having daily "load shedding" at random points during the day. Suddenly, the electricity will just go off for two hours at a time, and they are basically cycling this effect across the city. What's worse is that they're hilariously inconsistent in telling the public when it's going to happen. I've heard rumors that this is not supposed to last - that by next week they should stop the load shedding, but I have a hard time seeing how that's possible. I guess they're using this stoppage time to store up more electricity... but the problem is only going to get worse as time goes on.

Obviously people are pissed off, most vociferously, businesses - I've heard reports of millions to billions of dollars already having been lost. The stupidest thing is that, like I said before, Eskom knew this was going to happen for the past 15 years, and they apparently kept telling the government about it, but really to no avail. So they didn't do anything until 10 freaking years later, when they finally told Eskom in 2004 to go ahead and build another power station. But that obviously takes years to do, and it sounds like it'll be at LEAST five years until it's completed, during which time demand will continue to grow, and the whole deal will just get more screwed up.

The one thing it has taught me, though, over the past week - having a laptop is a major advantage over a desktop, since the battery will keep the power cuts from destroying my system...

3 comments:

Alex said...

Yeah, but can you really blame the government? Maybe they thought that electricity wouldn't be fashionable after the 90s. Look at grunge rock. Grunge was HUGE in '94. Who knew 10 years later electricity would be more popular than grunge?!

Alex said...

Obviously, they were distraught for 10 years after the death of Kurt Cobain... hold on... death of Kurt in '94... end of apartheid in '94... coincidence? Clearly the Afrikaans government were major grunge fans... so Kurt did not die in vain...

Lauren_D said...

Ahhh yes sounds like the rolling blackout days in CA...really screwed up the restaurant I worked in. I love the names that foreign companies come up with...load shedding is pretty good. I liked "topping up" in Ireland...
http://www.vodafone.ie/planscosts/prepay/topup/