South African Power Company Eskom in Death Spiral

Eskom is now in a death or debt spiral – or arguably both – as it engages in a stand-off with the government. __ Antigone Miltiadous

A few years after South Africa changed to a popular rule system of government, its power system began having problems. Equipment that should have been replaced or overhauled was left in place until it failed. Critical positions of oversight in the power company Eskom were filled by political cronies, rather than by the experts who should have been placed. Funds meant for power system maintenance and upgrades were mysteriously siphoned away to unknown bank accounts. And the power system degraded more and more every day.

Without necessary maintenance, all man-made systems will deteriorate.

White rule in South Africa ended in 1994. It was about ten years later that power outages began, which eventually reached crisis proportions. The principle reason for this is simply lack of maintenance on the generating equipment. Maintenance is future-oriented, and the Zulu entry in the dictionary for it is ondla, which means: “1. Nourish, rear; bring up; 2. Keep an eye on; watch (your crop).” In short, there is no such thing as maintenance in Zulu thought, and it would be hard to argue that this is wholly unrelated to the fact that when people throughout Africa say “nothing works,” it is only [a slight] exaggeration.
_Gedaliah Braun __ Source: How Africans May Differ from Westerners

The problem continues to grow worse, year after year. If blackouts are not caused by failing equipment, they are caused by labour strikes. The government of South Africa keeps promising to do something about the problem, but their plans keep getting pushed back. And honestly, what can the government do to solve the problem when to a large extent it is the government itself — and its massive system of corruption — which is at the root of the problem?

Here is a news report from last week:

Eskom was in the spotlight again last month as the lights went out across South Africa. Unplanned outages at the electric utility’s ageing coal-fired power stations resulted in almost two weeks of power cuts.

The unexpected load shedding was a direct consequence of years of mismanagement, corruption allegations and under-investment in the state-owned company.
__ Why do the Lights Keep Going Out in South Africa?

The problem of power blackouts and shortages is common across all the nations of sub Saharan Africa. When he was US President, Barack Obama wanted to help African nations to install gigawatts-sized wind farms and solar arrays. But anyone who understands power grids knows that such an approach is like pouring gasoline on a fire. Adding large amounts of intermittent energy sources to a grid only makes the grid more unstable and more likely to fail. But do not be surprised if the South African governments decides to walk down that slippery path to power perdition.

Still, installing large wind farms and watching the grid fail even more frequently may be a better solution than giving South Africa a nuclear power plant, as some nations in the BRICS group have suggested. If poor maintenance is causing problems with the current coal plants, imagine the possible complications from a nuclear power plant that is poorly maintained! No, please, China and Russia. Do not build nuclear power plants in a place where the people have no basic concept of maintenance.

It is no coincidence that a nation’s GDP and its population average IQ are correlated so closely and consistently.

Economic Success Correlates With National Average IQ
More at VDare

The average population IQ of South Africa is roughly “72.” Taking this number at face value, South Africa would have a difficult time finding enough qualified engineers and technicians to keep a modern power grid operating.

IQ and Capacity for Different Types of Work
via Gottfredson

To understand, maintain, refurbish, and modernise an advanced power grid, a minimum IQ of 115 is necessary for engineers, and a minimum IQ of 105 to 110 is needed for highly skilled technicians. A country with an average IQ of 70 could call on fewer than 4% of its population to train as engineers and barely more than that to train as power technicians. But that same 4% would also be needed to keep the country’s medical, legal, banking, transportation, fuel, agricultural, and other vital systems operating — to say nothing of critical government positions.

Sadly, South Africa awards its crucial staffing positions to the politically connected rather than to the qualified and competent. Hence the rapid downward spiral of South Africa’s once-proud ranking as Africa’s wealthiest and best run country.

Competence Hierarchies are Anathema to Socialists

South Africa is a “socialist” nation, like Zimbabwe, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, and a long list of other failed and failing states. Competence is rarely considered when high positions in government or (nationalised) industry are appointed. If a nation’s government and industries are run by incompetents, it is unlikely that the necessary maintenance and upgrades will be performed on the various systems within the nation. And so it is with South Africa’s nationalised power company, Eskom.

In future, expect more of the same, only worse.

More on maintenance in Africa

More on incompetence in relation to affirmative action

Arabs hold a similar attitude toward maintenance

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3 Responses to South African Power Company Eskom in Death Spiral

  1. Joe Wooten says:

    There already is a nuke power plant in South Africa. The French built a twin unit 930 MW (each)3 loop PWR at Koeberg. Lack of maintenance is already taking a toll on it too.

    • alfin2101 says:

      Thanks for the information. More here

      Apparently maintenance and technical problems began around 2005, according to Wikipedia. A “loose bolt” left in the generator caused severe damage, etc. etc.

      Maintenance in Africa? No such concept.

      Thanks again.

  2. Joe Wooten says:

    I work in the nuke power industry and read the NRC and WANO event pages weekly. I knew about all the incidents at Koeberg soon after they happened. A couple of engineers I worked with at Westinghouse spent some time at Koeberg and told me about their maintenance problems.

    IMHO, South Africa is going to have an epic collapse, and the black government will blame it all on whitey. There will then be a genocide attempt that will go badly for both sides. If I were living there, I’d be actively looking for a first world nation to emigrate to.

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