“Go to sleep earlier…”

I was listening to a local talk-radio programme on CapeTalk this morning on my way to work.

Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica gave an enlightening speech in Parliament yesterday, during a special joint parliamentary sitting, in which she urged all people in South Africa:

“Go to sleep earlier so that you can grow and be cleverer. Boil less water, use the microwave rather than stove, take a shower and not a shallow bath.”

Predictably, her fellow-politicians (and the entire population of our fair country) responded to her her eminently sensible advice (!) with roars of laughter, as well as sneers and jeers. The more randy ones chuckled with pleasure and said that there would be a population explosion, the sensible ones checked their bank balances to see whether they could afford to invest in diesel generators, deep-cycle batteries, gas cookers, solar panels and wind generators, whereas the really angry ones demanded that she should resign, along with other cabinet ministers – as if that would ever happen in a country where the Deputy President of SA, who is facing serious corruption charges, has nonetheless been elected as the President of the ANC, which means that he will become the next President of our country. Sigh…

Sonjica also said that other countries throughout the world had either faced very serious electricity crises in the past or were facing them now (perhaps along the lines of “if the rest of the world can’t get it right, how can you expect us to?”):

“South Africa’s energy crisis was due the country being part of the global village. There was a high demand for energy globally. “China, in 13 of its provinces, has the same problem. The growth of India and China has had an impact.” She said energy markets in Ontario, Canada, had collapsed. There had been blackouts in the USA and Europe, and Brazil had gone through the same experience, she said.”

Is it wise to compare us like that? Are these not rather sweeping generalisations?

The short-term solution (given that it will take a couple of years to build new power stations) is to use less electricity. We all (residential and industrial) have to ‘shave off’ at least 10% of our usage. Admittedly, there is a fair bit (? a lot?) of wastage because electricity has thus far been affordable and not too expensive, so hopefully a 10% reduction in consumption is realistic.

Our electricity woes have even made headlines in New York.

This isn’t a good thing.

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