When load shedding turns into a permanent solution
LOAD shedding has valuable lessons for equity. It ensures that not everyone is under cover of darkness at the same time but guarantees access during specific windows so that we all have electricity for some time of the day.
The optimisation of this model is that in a connected world and economy, the approach can only optimise equal misery. You could, for example, optimise your meeting point – decide to meet in the middle of a street and agree to meet only on the one side.
Eskom could permanently switch of entire parts of the country in order for some to enjoy secure and continuous electricity as a compromise in the distribution, but this approach of sharing of miseries would be highly unfair.
So we are in a fix.
For more than five years I have been contemplating to buy a generator but the spectre of competition in my suburb turns my appetite off. I have tried to revert to natural hatching but the chickens peck on the eggs and drink the contents.
I just cannot imagine what happens to factories that have invested billions but get continuously disrupted. In 2018 I spent some time in Kaduna State in Nigeria. It has many generators because the grid is so dysfunctional it cannot be relied on. My mission was to provide advice to the statistics office there under Governor Malam Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai. Nigeria is a federal country with 36 states.
Every programme manifests in triplets which would certainly lay a heavy burden on managing. For instance, the national bureau of statistics which is federal, co-exists with a separate state office.
The offices are separate, and collect data independent of each other for prices, labour markets and almost everything. Their census is conducted by the Population Council, which is represented by State Commissioners who are political appointees.
You can just imagine the serious political squabbles that accompany the numbers which constitute the state currency.
Nigeria is a land of generators. When you go for chop and quench – a restaurant – and you point and kill – which is where you point at – a catfish for slaughter, the generators continue their music. Of course, in time you no longer hear these generators. They fade into the subconscious mind and you make peace that they are part and parcel of life.
I am on the verge of reviewing my hesitation for procuring a generator, as load shedding has refused to be history in South Africa. What remains is to practise the dance moves for competing generators. But more importantly I can rescue my R2 500 investment on my hatchery and deny the crooners from molesting the eggs.
Dr Pali Lehohla is the former Statistician General of South Africa and the former head of Statistics SA.
*The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL or of title sites