Eskom flogged online

Candice Jones
By Candice Jones, ITWeb online telecoms editor
Johannesburg, 25 Jan 2008

In response to a mass of calls from South Africans looking to buy generators from local Web development company Generator, the development team set up an Eskom complaint Web site,

"Two blackouts in one day - one at our client's offices and one at our own - got us talking about the current power crisis and how it must be affecting businesses throughout the country. At the same time, our business received a flood of calls, and continues to do so, from people looking for generators to buy or hire," says Generator lead developer Werner Janse van Rensburg. was developed to give individuals and businesses an opportunity to share their frustrations and experiences, explains Janse van Rensburg. "We also wanted to raise awareness of the problem, invite constructive suggestions to remedy it and try add some humour to the problem."

According to Janse van Rensburg, Blackout has generated around 4 000 page views since it went live on Sunday. The Generator Web site receives approximately 1 000 unique visitors per week, all looking for non-Eskom-related power.

"Our intentions are not malicious at all; we understand the problem and simply want someone out there to fix what could potentially destroy a growing economy," he says.

Blackout invites users who submit stories to include an estimate of business losses caused by load-shedding, which currently adds up to just over R2 million. Janse van Rensburg explains these are just estimates. "We encourage everyone to use their own discretion and most people will add little calculations to show how they got to the loss amount."

Web community gatherings

Meanwhile, Solidarity's Eskom Stories Web site has received over 2 000 submissions from disgruntled South Africans.

The site has been created to supply a more direct link between the man-on-the-street, government and Eskom. "The more you filter into the average person, the more powerful your campaign can be. This will help demand accountability from Eskom," says Solidarity deputy general-secretary Dirk Hermann.

Solidarity has appealed to businesses, individuals, hospitals, community organisations and other stakeholders to actively participate in the Eskom Web hearing.

"We want to hear about damages caused by defrosting refrigerators; accidents caused by out-of-action traffic lights; and time lost in traffic snarl-ups. Businesses must relate their production losses; the cost of generators; damage to equipment and all other losses."

Arrive Alive has published a load-shedding road survival guide. "The point should be that there is no need for additional accidents during load-shedding; what we need to reflect on is our driver attitude," says Arrive Alive Web site spokesman Johan Jonck:

The guidelines on the Web site are intended to assist road users during the rolling blackouts and make sure they obey the road rules, he explains.

Community developer and IT consultant Rian Groenewald, from White River, set up Shed Happens! yesterday, to encourage South Africans to discuss possible solutions to the energy crisis. "I have been looking over the Internet and found most people are just complaining; there are no real ideas or solutions to be found."

It is a long-term problem that will need practical and innovative ideas to help alleviate some of the strain we will experience as South Africans, he explains. "One idea came from a client. He says you should turn your plugs off when the power goes out, because when it comes back on, your appliances can be damaged."

According to Groenewald, the site should not be used as Eskom-bashing, but rather to discuss small ways to make life easier during times of load-shedding. Groenewald has also added a new portal where non-profit organisations can include contact details and list services freely.

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Complain about Eskom here
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Black days ahead for ICT?
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Industry to take on Eskom