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Public confidence and image campaign    

The reliability of supply issue has forced South Africans into an era of uncertainty, since a resource we have always taken for granted has become scarce. The electricity crisis has impacted heavily on public confidence in Eskom and the organisation’s ability to deliver electricity on a sustained basis is being brought into question.

The impact of load shedding in the public space cannot be underestimated, changing the way people live and work almost overnight. Coupled with this uncertainty, there have been announcements about price increases that will affect not only residential customers, but also business and the economy. The full impact of the issue is starting to become clear to South Africans from all walks of life and the resultant anger and shock are completely understandable.

Eskom and government have communicated the national recovery plan, starting with the stabilisation phase, the powerrationing phase and the power-conservation phase. Coupled with these messages, Eskom has outlined the severity of the supply problem and the long timelines involved in bringing new power stations online. With this in mind, the role of the consumer becomes critical in managing the issue of demand.

Long term, a sustained behaviour change to a more energyefficient culture in South Africa is the ultimate objective of Eskom’s communication. A partnership between government, Eskom, business and the South African public is the only way to address this complex issue.

Co-ordination efforts with government in terms of communication are ongoing to ensure synergy of messages in order to address confusion in the public domain. The communication is multi-pronged, with campaigns to educate the public about energy efficiency driven by government and, more recently, the private sector.

An integrated campaign will be launched to provide muchneeded educational content and provide a platform for South Africans to enter into a dialogue with Eskom. We have also bolstered our resources and systems to deal with media queries and the management of issues in the public space.

Although the electrical supply system remains tight, power rationing has brought predictability to consumers and businesses, and the increased reserve margin has allowed Eskom the “space” to carry out crucial maintenance. With high-profile communication campaigns being launched, much-needed information and feedback will be forthcoming. Over time, Eskom will seek to rebuild public confidence and, once again, earn the trust of the South African public.

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