The voice of the students

The Catamount

The voice of the students

The Catamount

The voice of the students

The Catamount

South African Energy Crisis

Image Credit: Waldo Swiegers, Bloomberg via Getty Images

While we live with electricity and power every day, some are not so fortunate. For about the past 16 years, South Africa’s energy plants have been starting to shut down due to lack of maintenance. In recent years (2020-2023), load shedding has reached levels they were hoping to not reach. To explain load shedding a bit, it is a bunch of planned blackouts countrywide. Shutting off power, for example, from 2 pm to 4 pm. But in recent years, these numbers have increased for power being off for almost 12 hours daily. Though spread throughout the day, it can affect businesses and homes. This is especially true for the Wine Farm industry as they have had to alter their operations. When the power goes out, it leaves time for the grapes to overripen or become damaged without the proper conditions. This can also disrupt the pressing of the grapes, causing them to become off. This causes the tastes of the wine to change and, therefore, lose product. 

While the obvious fix is generators, the issue is generators are expensive. They can be anywhere from 5,000 rand to 200,000 rand (300 usd to 10,000 usd). Obviously, a household surviving on minimum wage can’t afford that. This leaves issues for many households.

I did a few interviews with my own family members living in South Africa. I asked them different questions about the living conditions and if there had been any shift in the community. They, all having different perspectives, gave me some great insight. My uncle and aunt have a small business that has to do with the export of wine. They are not directly impacted except for the shift they had to make for storing wine, their producers are. The people whose wine they export had many issues with their systems when the Crisis started to ramp up in recent years. Many businesses had to close due to complications and the inability to afford solutions. Meanwhile, students experience power outages during exams and have common areas cramped with students trying to find places to study where they can get power.

Surprisingly, the social divide is not large. Since many people are struggling with the same issue, privileged virus non-privileged communities. While there will still be discord over this issue in the communities of South Africa, it is not as divided as others as they all have one common enemy: a corrupt government.

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    Cecile PrinslooJan 25, 2024 at 9:43 am

    Well written and very accurate.