He Ain’t Heavy – It’s Time to Shed That Load

There has been a lot of rain and flooding in the northern areas of South Africa. We have had some temperamental weather down at the coast but nothing like they are dealing with in the north.

The impact of this nationally is that we are having load shedding again. For those non-SA peeps, this is where the national grid cannot cope with the demand of their end users and they just turn off entire areas of the national grid. They usually do this in a publicised, organised manner (well it is organised for Africa) and people know when to expect to be without power and can plan accordingly.

However, this time we were given no warning at all. Yesterday our power went off in the middle of the day and was off for over 2 hours. It then came on for a bit, then went off at 6pm and remained off until after 9pm.  This impacts us as it can lead to the food in your freezer melting, and we spend a crap load of money each month on organic, free range raw meat for our animals.

It also means that my daughters are unable to do their course work and both are doing their honours degrees at University. Their laptops die, they cannot do research without wifi and they can barely see. When it is lights out in Hout Bay you can barely see your hand in front of you – we have no street lights and it is DARK. This can be lovely and romantic under some circumstances but for most….not so much. We sat with candles and lanterns and chatted in the dark.

Norm ventured out for food to discover half the valley had power and at least the restaurants were open.

Times like this make me think we are definitely in a third world country. There are several reasons for the inability to supply the country with electricity. SA also supplies 2/3s of Africa’s electricity. It is estimated that up to 40% of people do not pay for their electricity, particularly in rural areas. The rain has resulted in wet coal. The electricity supply in SA is still coal driven however we also have nuclear energy sources. Almost 90 percent of South Africa’s electricity is generated in coal-fired power stations. Koeberg, a large nuclear station near Cape Town, provides about 5 percent of capacity. A further 5 percent is provided by hydroelectric and pumped storage schemes. Wet coal is not as efficient as dry coal so the energy production is reduced during high periods of rainfall.

The rumour is that we will possibly be subject to load shedding (no electricity) for a month, with each day estimated loss of 6 hours per household over 3 periods of time. The irony is that they have just hiked their prices again and the directors of Eskom (the power supply public utility) still take home those big bonuses. Did I mention the ridiculous levels of corruption and incompetence in SA?

The root causes of the issues with electricity supply are incompetent governing. The country’s leaders have known that they have lack of capacity but has anything been done about it? No. The government here is predominately full of people who are more interested in filling their pockets than they are in doing the right thing for the country and its constituents.

But that is the thing about Africa, it has some really fabulous points, we have an amazing view, live in a stunning city, have very cosmopolitan restaurants, wine routes literally on our doorstep. It also has a huge level of poverty, overpopulation in some areas and high levels of crime.

I accept all of these vastly divergent points as what makes Africa Africa. Sort of like that annoying relative which gets on your nerves at times, then bakes you a cake and you realise they are actually OK.

The SA cake equivalent is a stunning sunset, a beautiful day at the beach, a swim in my pool, the view of my mountains while drinking my morning coffee – the things that make life worthwhile.



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