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If you are not using it, switch it off. A massive, nationwide power-saving campaign has been launched, called 49M. The idea is to save electricity and the environment.
EVERYONE has been encouraged to contribute to the national drive to conserve electricity and help reduce South Africa’s carbon footprint, through the government’s new electricity campaign, 49M, which was launched at the Turbine Hall in Newtown.


Vice President Kgalema MothlantheSouth Africans should work together to save electricity, says Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe49M is a call to all 49 million South Africans, including small children to “to save power, save their pockets and help save the planet”, says Eskom, the national power supplier, which spearheads the campaign with the government and the private sector. Eskom says it has initiated the campaign because South Africa’s electricity consumption has surged, while the country has a constrained power system and high electricity prices.

South Africans are called on to use their electricity sparingly and to switch off lights or appliances that are not in use. Businesses should keep non-essential lighting and office equipment switched off, especially during peak periods between 7am to 10am and 6pm to 9pm. Ceilings need to be insulated to improve temperature regulation and people should wear clothing that is appropriate for the weather, to save switching on fans or heaters.

Eskom advises people to ensure that the seals on their fridge doors are in good condition and that the doors are closed properly. They should not open the fridge door more than is necessary. If you are making one cup of tea, boil only enough water for that cup, and when toasting bread use the toaster and not the oven. Take a shower rather than a bath, because showers use less water and electricity.

The campaign is themed “Lift a finger”, which is all it takes to switch off a light when it is not in use. Its key messages are: “Remember your power” and “If you are not using it, switch it off”. 49M is envisaged to run for five years and will be adapted over time to meet specific challenges and demands, says the parastatal.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, the keynote speaker at the launch on Friday, 18 March, said 49M was a vital component in the country’s drive for responsible economic and developmental growth. “We each have it within our power to make an individual difference to energy efficiency. Working in partnership to save energy, all South Africa’s people can guarantee a better future,” he explained.


The deman for electricity is increasingBetter technologies are required to counter the high demand for electricityAlthough load shedding still posed a huge risk for the country’s economy in the cold winter months, given the traditional increased demand during that season, Eskom had already built extra or enough capacity to cater for it.

Alternative energy
“The increasing demand for electricity, coupled with our obligation to reduce emissions, means that we have the duty to develop better technologies through research to harness energy by using methods such as underground gasification and other alternative innovations,” said Motlanthe.

Individuals also needed to be accountable. “By taking action on a personal level to reduce waste, acting as an ‘electricity influencer’ at home and in the workplace, we can today begin the process of saving electricity and contributing to the health of our environment,” he noted.

Some 92 percent of South Africa’s electricity was generated using coal. “By reducing the need for coal and making better use of generating facilities, we will also be safeguarding our environment for future generations,” said Motlanthe.

Brian Dames, Eskom’s chief executive, said reducing electricity consumption could save money and the planet. “The simple truth is that Eskom cannot meet these challenges alone. We need the active support of the entire population and a national commitment to developing practical energy saving and energy efficiency habits.”

Eskom had budgeted R343-billion from 2008 to 2013 to set up new power stations, with the first one expected to be functional by 2013. The parastatal sought to cut electricity demand by about 3 000 megawatts before 2012 and a further 5 000 megawatts by 2025 through the promotion of solar-powered geysers and liquid petroleum gas for cooking, along with other energy efficiency measures.

Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba endorsed the campaign, adding that the government was committed to ensuring long-term security of electricity supply. “We appeal to all South Africans to partner with the 49M initiative and continue to use electricity more efficiently,” he said.


Government officials are behing the call to save electricityGovernment is behing the 49M campaign to save electricityDipuo Peters, the minister of energy, said her department had identified energy efficiency and conservation as a low-risk and low-cost option to respond to climate change. South Africa needed to use renewable energy sources to reduce emissions. “We need to intensify the implementation of energy efficiency projects as it means money back in your pocket because you pay less on your energy bills,” she explained.

Herbert Mkhize, the executive director of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) and the convenor of the National Stakeholder Advisory Council on Energy, welcomed Eskom’s commitment to pre-empt load-shedding. “For this long-overdue initiative to succeed, we need to rally all social partners behind a set of targeted agreed actions and stamina to stay the course,” he said.

Mpho Makwana, the chairman of Eskom, said conserving energy was a collective effort. “Some South Africans have already made a start with simple actions, such as using compact fluorescent lamps instead of incandescent globes, keeping unused appliances switched off, and reducing electricity wastage, which can have a dramatic impact.”

49M activation campaigns will be held nationwide to create awareness and provide power saving tips. “Remember your power’’ stickers will be made available, which people are urged to stick in strategic areas in their homes, at work and on electrical points such as plugs, light switches, and on and off buttons, as a constant reminder that, “If you are not using it, switch it off”.

More information about the initiative can be found on the 49M website.

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