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You’re probably sick to death of hearing about Eskom’s woes and load shedding, the government’s floundering attempts to fix the ailing enterprise, and what is fast becoming our phrase of the year, “stage 4.”
But beyond the impact felt by every South African over the past few days, Google Trends has documented the growing crisis that is our national electricity provider. In fact, it’s been documenting the crisis since 2008.
Using the search terms “Eskom”, “Stage 4”, “load shedding” and “loadshedding” — because there’s no clear way of how else to spell “rolling blackouts” — we can see just how heavily South Africans are searching for these terms.
From 14 March around 9am, we note the first big jump. This was the day Eskom announced it would implement rolling blackouts — the first time in more than a month.
The search traffic peaks then continue to grow, as Stage 4 is implemented on Saturday, and remained throughout Sunday and Monday.
“Load shedding” remained the more heavily-searched of the three search terms thoughout the weekend. Surprisingly, “Stage 4” is a tiny blip on Google’s radar.
In terms of Google Trends 15 year wad of data, “Eskom” and “load shedding” have only ever been more feverishly searched during two periods in our history.
In January 2008, searches for “Eskom” peaked as the first major load shedding instance took hold of the country.
Again, between October 2014 and October 2015, “load shedding” and “Eskom” peaked once more, as the rise of social media use in South Africa coincided with the power utility’s second major crisis
Eskom, load shedding, and Stage X?
Eskom on Sunday announced that it expects load shedding at Stage 4 to continue until Tuesday. Wednesday doesn’t look much better either.
It’s not yet clear when the crisis will be mitigated, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Google search queries this week toppled 2008 and 2014-2015’s literal dark periods.
Feature image: icono via Pexels