A light bulb moment for SA

A number of analysts and editors have described the catastrophic effects stage 8 will have across the country and economy, in hospitals, schools, and offices.


There are few things that are able to describe the stages of grief South Africans have been through in response to the power crisis.

This has recently culminated, in true South African style, in a number of internet memes. And while our humour may carry us through, no meme can prepare us for the consequences of stage 8 load shedding, which is becoming more and more likely this winter.

A number of analysts and editors have described the catastrophic effects stage 8 will have across the country and economy, in hospitals, schools, and offices.

I can’t help thinking there is one group which is constantly left out of the conversation: community-based organisations. As the state has progressively failed over the last 15 years, thousands of community-based organisations have taken over providing services that should be provided by the government.

They include school feeding schemes, after-school care facilities and rape crisis centres. They are based in churches, run-down buildings and, sometimes, in people’s homes.

These organisations embody the best of the South African spirit. In the face of all odds, with a shortage of resources, these organisations are run tirelessly by people determined to do better for those around them, for those who are just slightly worse off than they are. Philisa Abafazi Bethu (PAB) was founded by Lucinda Evans of Lavender Hill, Cape Town, in 2008.

Having had a life-long dream of doing something to help abused women and children in her community, she was pushed to act after witnessing a crowd gathering around a man beating his wife in the street. People were watching intently, but noone was doing anything to stop the violence.

ALSO READ: SA technically in stage 8 load shedding despite Eskom saying it’s stage 6

Beginning

Evans started PAB in her dining room and garage, soon opening a safe house in her back yard. The organisation grew rapidly, and a full-fledged facility was opened in Steenberg in 2020.

A year later, PAB opened a second safe house for members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Describing the effect of load shedding on her facilities and the vulnerable people they serve, Evans says: “Every time the power cuts, it’s a traumatic, fearful experience for gender-based violence [GBV] safe houses.

A safe house cannot protect survivors of GBV when our electric fencing doesn’t work and our camera feed is down.” Evans’ response has not been to sit idly by and complain.

She is taking on the power crisis with her biggest anti-load shedding asset: the roof of one of PAB’s safe houses in Lavender Hill. PAB has partnered with the SunCash Initiative to fund the cost of solar panel installation.

Most of the money comes from crowdfunding, meaning members of the community can contribute to the project with as little as R85. The key enabler of this social impact investment is blockchain technology – each cell in the solar panel installation is connected to a blockchain token, which bears a certain value. There is no way for such an investment to be threatened by corruption and mismanagement.

The technology will also enable others to access the power of self-generated electricity, if not through crowdfunding, then through affordable rental.

With solar-cell-linked digital assets, investors are incentivised to provide the capital for installations by the promise of a share of the ongoing rental income, with quarterly payouts targeting 12% per year. Contrary to the delusional musings of our energy minister, SA’s transition to renewable technology is not state-led.

It is being driven by ordinary South Africans who are gatvol of having to live in darkness, with all the threats to safety and productivity that brings. It is being funded by our neighbours, and it is being used by all. -Posthumus is CEO at Momint.

NOW READ: ‘Stage 8 load shedding likely in winter’ – Eskom

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