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.