South Africans turn to social media to discuss power cuts
January 29, 2015
Power cuts planned by South Africa's main electricity supplier, Eskom, have triggered a discussion. A look at how social media is being used to vent frustration at a growing problem in the country.
Daily power cuts are routine in most African cities. And even for a country like South Africa, which accounts for 45 percent of the continent's electricity production, power outages are becoming commonplace. Because of its aging power plants, Africa's largest electricity producer, Eskom, has been forced to implement load shedding. It will ration supply across South Africa in order to prevent total black outs.
Load shedding is often implemented in countries where the demand for electricity exceeds supply.
Eskom has posted schedules on the Internet, informing customers on when power will be cut in their areas. The outages normally last for about three hours. But some customers have complained that Eskom doesn't stick to the schedules.
The power rationing, which began in January, could last until March.
Shrugging it off
South Africans are venting their anger and frustration on social media.
This isn't the first time South Africans have experienced load shedding. The last time Eskom implemented similar measures to avoid total blackouts was in November. And it looks like South Africa could be facing the problem for years to come, at least according to analysts. The hashtag #loadshedding, used in connection with the power cuts, has been trending on Twitter in South Africa.
However, only a few South Africans call for Eskom to take action. It appears that they have accepted that they can't do much to change the situation. While some complain about having to spend a whole night in the dark, others joke about it.
South Africans not alone
South Africans are among the millions of people on the continent who have to deal with daily power cuts. There are a few Twitter accounts parodying the official accounts of electricity companies that are becoming more and more popular. The Electric Company of Ghana (ECG) is said to stand for "Electricity Comes and Goes" and "Enhancing Candles and Generators" by spoof accounts on Twitter. And Zambia has "ZESCO explains it" for tweets that poke fun at outages by the state-owned power supplier.