Thousands of Light Bulbs Crushed in South Africa

By Sipho Maduna

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 20, 2005 (ENS) - Dark City, as Alexandra is sometimes known, held South Africa's first mass crushing of thousands of incandescent globes last week at the Altrec Sports Centre.

The township, in the north of Johannesburg, was chosen for the globe crushing because it is the home of energy provider Eskom's pilot project to boost energy efficiency and cut costs. In almost 40,000 households, 140,000 incandescent globes have been replaced with compact fluorescent lamps, as households in the township switch over to energy-efficient lighting.

Compact fluorescent lamps use about 80 percent less energy than ordinary incandescent globes, to produce the same light output.

At the crushing event, co-ordinator of the Alexandra Consortium, Charles Lefifi, started his speech with a poem dedicated to the township. He also gave the audience a brief history of the area, and mentioned a few of the political figures who have lived in Alexandra, like Nelson Mandela and Alfred Nzo, the former minister of foreign affairs.

The consortium is responsible for co-ordinating the globe replacements.


A bulldozer crushes thousands of incandescent light bulbs at the Altrec Sports Centre. (Photo courtesy City of Johannesburg)
Alexandra covers an area of more than 800 hectares (1,975 acres), with an estimated population of 350,000. The population has increased dramatically in recent years as rural people have flocked to the city in search of better living and job opportunities.

"The project was done to illustrate the benefits to the community of using efficient lamps and to reduce the evening electrical load in Alexandra," said Ravi Govender, Karebo Systems project manager.

Karebo Systems helped distribute the compact fluorescent lamps.

Govender said the program had social benefits for students and unemployed people, who were trained for a week by lamp suppliers Eurolux and Lohuis to help with the distribution of the compact fluorescent lamps.

"Our duty was to make sure that the lamps were distributed from house to house," said Germina Setshedi, a distributor. The compact fluorescent lamps fit standard light fittings.

Ernest Sepharatla, City Power's electrification support manager, said the public-private partnership in Alexandra was a socio-developmental and business imperative.

"We are trying to show South Africans how to save and to make it possible to enjoy life to the fullest," said Tsholo Matlala, an Eskom energy service manager.

Households that change to energy-efficient lighting can save up to R144 (US$22.50) a year, according to a statement issued by Eskom's demand side management unit. Alexandra can save more than R2 million (US$312,000) a year.

"This is not the first time Eskom has played a key role in ongoing development in Gauteng and other parts of the country," Lefife said. It aimed to uplift communities, spearheaded by the Eskom Development Foundation.

The foundation operates in all nine provinces in underdeveloped areas, especially in rural areas and new urban settlements.

According to Eskom, South Africa's growing economy has led to increased peak electricity demand in recent years, currently estimated at 15 percent annually.

The residential sector consumes 17 percent of generated electricity, which increases to 35 percent of demand during peak periods. Peak periods are from 7am to 10am and from 6pm to 8pm.

Eskom said the company will extend the pilot program to the town of Garankuwa. The electricity supplier says it is committed to providing 300,000 compact fluorescent lamps nationwide at no cost to the homeowners.

{Published in cooperation with the City of Johannesburg, online at: