It seems as though the country is up in arms about the recent spate of scheduled and rolling blackouts we have experienced from electricity giant Eskom. These on and off shenanigans have been happening for about three weeks now; a ‘beautiful’ welcome by our country into the festive season. The country experienced quite a pleasant winter and by pleasant we mean that there was no scheduled load shedding in winter, a considerate move by Eskom. However, the archaic technology that is being used cannot keep up with the power demands, and with the electricity grid being put under pressure, Eskom has been forced to schedule these load sheddings in summer or be faced with their already-underpressured-systems to completely fail, causing a total black-out which would take longer to fix.
Now, while load shedding may be understandable in terms of relieving the pressure a little bit at a time in order to stabilise usage, in retrospect, I’d rather have a couple hours of darkness than an entire month or year. With that being said, the on going black-outs have been negatively affecting South Africans in all provinces. People wake up in the mornings and have no electricity for them to get ready for the day, to go to their jobs, they leave their house and enter stand still traffic as the traffic lights are out. Add an extra hour to their mornings and another R50-R100’s worth of petrol vanishing into the ether of bumper to bumper idles of frustrated citizens. Late for work and then the power is off at work too. It feels like we’re trying to avoid the blackouts by escaping to different suburbs only to be caught in the continuous trap of load shedding. Darn.
We looked at the online conversations surrounding load shedding, putting the most used hashtags into our social intelligence tool, Tracx. These are the keywords that we tracked: [Loadshedding] OR [Load shedding] OR [eishkom] OR [#eishkom] OR [no electricity] OR (([eskom]) AND ([loadshedding] OR [#loadshedding] OR [load shedding] OR [power outage] OR [no electricity]))
We looked at the online conversations for the past 30 days (10 November 2014 – 9 December 2014).
- There were over 30 000 posts relating to the keywords used with over 500 000 interactions.
- Over 24 000 posts had at least one interaction on it and became a conversation.
- The engagement rate is very high at 79% with over 430 000 unique people being reached and engaging in the topics. The high engagement rate also indicates that those affected want to voice their opinions about their black out experiences and also engage with other like-minded individuals.
- Conversations had an average density of around 20 people.
A geo- heat map of activity surrounding load shedding
Cape Town and Johannesburg had the greatest activity over the past 30 days. It would be expected that the larger cities would have the most activity as the larger cities are the ones most affected. The population density, the traffic nightmares, the important documents that didn’t manage to save as the power cut, and all the head offices that are situated in the cities.
Now, while there are probably really smart people sitting with the harrowing task of trying to get the country’s power stable at Eskom, the fact remains that literally hundreds and thousands of South Africans are paying the price of Eskom’s poorly managed electricity infrastructure. We see the big salaries at Eskom and wonder why that money has not been used to stabilise the country’s electricity supply. Perhaps Eskom’s quest for monopolising the market place lead them to bite off more than they can chew. Eskom is struggling, and we wish that instead of focusing on creating barriers to entry, they should have focused on revamping archaic equipment.
There is a possibility of a nationwide black out, the thought frightens us.