The Power Cut

Every now and than people in South Africa experience power cuts. There are several reasons for it; the main one is that the national electicity supplier Eskom does not have enough capacity. They are working on it but that will take several years. Second in line is a backlog in maintenance of the different distribution stations and power lines. But let’s keep politics out of this.

Since we moved to Stanford we were hardly troubled by power cuts (in contrast with the Klaas Voogds area near Robertson, our previous adress, where we experienced -at the end of the line- virtually daily ‘fluctuations’ in the power supply). Yesterday Eskom made up for it: due to a fire at one of their stations Stanford and Gansbaai were disconnected for about 12 hours (we were nicely informed by the local municipality that it would take 8 hrs longer) so we took some precautions. Luckely we have a gas stove and hot water is generated by solar heating and the labtop at last had the chance to cool off a bit. For the lights we had candle light with dinner (how romantic!), parafine lights for the sphere and solar led lights for reading.

The solar led lights are an initiative of the Stanford Rotary and the local NGO Food for Thought. They were primarly designated for people in ‘local communities’ who don’t have access to electricity or who can’t keep up with the rising electricity rates. What surprises us that Africans from South Africa, living in the ‘location’ or ‘Scheme’ as people here named the ‘township’ don’t buy these lights but Africans from other countries do. We have the idea that this has to do with education and mindset. South African Africans think more short term: why pay 75 Rand for Solar LEDs if a candle stick only cost 10 Rand; forgetting that a candlestick only last for a few days and the solar LED jar (see pictures left and above) for at least several years. And in comparison with the electricity usage/costs of a bulb the pay back time is a few months… During the day you put the jar behind a window where it catches the light, stores the power is a small battery so it provides light for 6 hours.

Coming back to the national electricity supply: if Eskom would allow concious people to supply power to the grid we would be one of the first to install photovoltaic cells on the roof.

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