By John Fraser
They say every cloud has a silver lining. Well, Eskom could sure do with several hundred of those.
Corruption, incompetence, political ineptitude have all contributed to the power crisis which has recently meant rolling blackouts, often day and night, for we South Africans.
If you analyse this problem with basic economics, we have a crisis of supply and demand – far too often there is not enough supply to meet demand, so they turn the lights out.
We have a Department of Energy which could help to boost supply by unleashing a flood of renewables projects, but Minister Gwede Mantashe is a disgrace, occasionally spouting the right rhetoric, but doing bugger all in practice.
So, if supply can’t be boosted, how about demand?
Well, the stock markets have been plummeting, bans on travel are multiplying, and it looks as if the SA economy is sinking into an even deeper pothole of shit than had previously been thought.
Bad? Not entirely.
If, as my primitive economics tells me, the economy falters, so will the demand for electricity.
The white knight of deeper recession rides to the rescue of Eskom.
Of course, this is not inevitable. The virus could severely impact Eskom staff, further reducing the reliability (not often this word is associated with this cash-guzzling monster) of supply.
If, and let us hope this is so, curbed demand relieves some of the pressure, long, long, long overdue maintenance could be fast-tracked. And that would be excellent in the longer-term.
Agreed, none of this compensates for the misery, loss of life, loss in prosperity, loss of liberty, which this virus will bring.
But it is nice to have a bright side.
Now go and wash your hands.
PS. It may be in terrible taste but was never meant to cause undue offence: our podcast tasting of Corona beer is lurking on the ZA Confidential website. It was recorded just a few days ago, and how things have changed. Put on a face mask, and give it a listen.
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