“Because of this situation, economic growth just stops. In that way, the problem solves itself.” Andrew Kenny, an engineering consultant to the NYTimes.
"If you want to see the future - just take a look at what is happening in South Africa at the moment." Paul, a SA resident, in a letter to me last weekend.
Chronic electricity shortages in South Africa provide an excellent example for why a resilient community approach to development is necessary.Rolling blackouts ("load shedding") have made life a miserable hell for individuals and businesses alike. Under-investment, bad management, poor planning, difficult weather, and shoddy maintenance have combined to create a power crisis that will take at least four years to return to stability (which will damage economic growth, foreign direct investment, and social stability). It has also become a regional crisis, since power exports have been halted to regional trading partners. According to an e-mail from Paul in South Africa, co-dependent networks are starting to breakdown and there has been a run on alternatives sources of energy:
...the rest of the infrastructure is now showing cracks. One of the provinces told the government that they would have to initiate severe water restrictions if the situation does not improve because all the reservoirs are filled with electric pumps. And there has been a massive run on generators and UPS systems by both private individuals and businesses. Thanks to that the demand for fuel has shot through the roof. Same with LPG and natural gas products.This may result in domestic energy hoarding/competition though selective disruption of connectivity (in a very similar fashion to what we saw in Iraq).