Pretoria — South Africans must save electricity as the country cannot afford to go back to a situation where load shedding is necessary like in 2008, says Eskom Board Chairperson Zola Tsotsi.
"The risk for load shedding is very low, in fact I have said load shedding is not in my vocabulary but if we don't save energy as we should anything is possible and we don't want to go there," Tsotsi told SAnews on Saturday.
He was speaking after a 49M electricity saving campaign roadshow in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria. The 49M campaign is conducted by Eskom and the Department of Public Enterprise.
"I say that we must as South Africans all get involved in energy savings and the way to do that is by using electricity properly as residents and as businesses," Tsotsi said.
He said Eskom had held extensive engagements with business on what was needed from them and this had resulted in the power utility recording major savings.
Eskom was now using the 49M campaign to shift the focus to consumers, particularly households.
The 49M campaign seeks to encourage 49 million South Africans to save electricity. Eskom is using local celebrities to drive the campaign's messages at road shows in all of the country's nine provinces.
Tsotsi said Eskom would like to see South Africans cutting electricity usage by at least 10 percent.
Earlier in the day, Deputy Minister of Public Enterprise Bulelani Magwanishe told a large crowd of Mamelodi residents that by saving electricity they were not doing government a favour but saving themselves money.
"By saving electricity you are helping yourselves because it means more money in your pocket," Magwanishe said.
He warned that rising electricity costs were leading to job losses and increased poverty. Electricity wastage was also putting severe pressure on the national grid.
"We don't want to go back to the situation we saw in 2008, so let us save as much as we can," he said, in reference to the rolling black outs of that year.
The Deputy Minister also called for a renewed fight against illegal power connections which were notorious in townships like Mamelodi.
Authorities say illegal connections cost the country R4.4 billion per annum.
"It's a very serious problem because it also involves loss of life ... also these illegal connections are stealing from communities and the South African society as a whole, so it's a very serious matter," said Magwanishe.