Load shedding: Bringing the dark to the continent

It appears there is a new phenomenon in Africa right now, which is fast becoming a trend: power cuts. It’s like all our authorities sat at one meeting and said, ‘you know how we can really turn Africa into the dark continent?’”

The South Africans recently started experiencing it full-force and have been getting creative with their complaints on social media.

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I for one do not understand load-shedding, especially in South Africa and Zimbabwe where many residencies have prepaid units? It’s like someone is selling us stuff they don’t have. What’s the definition of fraud again?

What’s the definition of fraud again?

The recent spates of xenophobia in South Africa are an indication of a bigger problem: discontent within the black community, and the failures of the post-colonial government on service delivery.

If a man can accuse a cigarette vendor of ‘taking his job,’ then there is a serious employment issue, education issue; service delivery issue. It simply means the government has failed to set conditions for the average Joe to make it within his own country.

I met up with a friend from Ghana in Harare during an arts festival. After we had gone through the ironies of having known each other for years, and then only meeting in a hotel elevator, we got to chatting.

Factories are closing down in Ghana, workers are being laid off because power-cuts are disrupting production. A company which pays workers per hour is likely to make a terrible loss when production does not match the hours paid for.

So these irregular power-supplies are actually doing more harm than good to Africa, and are only digging us deeper into whatever pit we are in.

In my neighbourhood, I lose at least six productive hours in a day at least five times a week. That adds up to thirty hours a week, and the worst part is if the electricity goes off in the afternoon, by the time it returns it’s time for other nocturnal commitments which adds more to your loss.

Writers, tailors, millers, anyone who relies on electricity to conduct their business, yes, even farmers, you need electricity to get the boreholes going, all lose at least thirty productive hours a week. For what, when electricity is prepaid?

For what, when electricity is prepaid?

The time is gone for Africa to insist she exists in a vacuum. We need to have some standard of reasonableness in our social and political structures, which I think is the reason we keep pretending to have embraced democracy (Nigeria gets a free-pass this time around).

Let’s agree on the basics: health delivery, electricity and education can be a start, then we add WI-FI to that list later.

The other day, one of my editors waited eight hours for an article because some wise guy decided to take electricity away at 5am and only return it at 2pm. I couldn’t work, neither could the photographer I was working with because neither of our studios had power.

Writers and photographers are not the only ones affected; imagine, in those nine hours of production at a standstill, how much money we lost; as a nation, as a continent?

And guess what? Now they want to introduce 16 hours of darkness.

Seriously, WTF?!

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Philani Amadeus Nyoni is a published Zimbabwean poet (“Once A Lover ALways A Fool” and “Hewn From Rock”), short story writer and actor.

His writings have been published in newspapers and magazines including The Sunday News, Zimbabwe Metro, South Africa Metro, Consciousness.co.za and Ghana Poetry Foundation.
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