SA energy campaign enlists youth

1 August 2012

South Africa’s 49m energy efficiency campaign is enlisting the help of the country’s youth in saving electricity, with Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba hosting a youth dialogue workshop in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

The 49m campaign – an Eskom initiative so named to reflect the population of the country – was launched in March last year by Gigaba and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe as a response to the country’s constrained power system, climate change, the recent economic downturn, and rising electricity costs.

The campaign encourages individuals and corporates to lead energy-smart lifestyles to help save the planet and their pockets.

“The Y-Generation has power to influence change if each and every one of them could realise their power,” Gigaba said at Tuesday’s session at the Hyatt Hotel in Rosebank.

It formed part of an initiative of Johannesburg-based radio station YFM – which holds regular monthly sessions with young leaders who are key influencers in their communities – in partnership with 49m.

‘Break away from energy-dependent mindset’

In his address, Gigaba urged young South Africans to break away from an energy-dependent mindset that is fast becoming obsolete.

“Energy inefficiency is no longer a sign of wealth or power, instead it has been associated with irresponsibility to its far-reaching negative effects,” he said.

Over 1.2-billion people live in the dark, and Gigaba said that if people do not begin to save they may never know the benefits of internet access, medical technology or just sheer light and warmth.

Many South African youth are heavily dependent on energy-consuming appliances to simply survive during winter, but Gigaba encouraged them to find other ways to stay warm, such as wrapping themselves in a blanket and a hot water bottle.

“Energy efficiency is as simple as adapting to what 49M urges, and that is doing more with less,” he said.

“Influencing parents to switch off the geyser during peak hours and not leaving the fridge door open for longer than necessary puts less strain on them when having to foot the electricity bill at the end of the month.”

He also reminded them to spread the message to their families and peers to “flick that switch” when leaving the room.

SAinfo reporter