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The print media, last week, published details of an energy conference between government, the Eswatini Energy Regulatory Authority (ESERA), and the parastatal and private sector leading lights.

Only three years away from the end of the Power Purchasing Agreement (PPA) with South Africa, there remained a worrying uncertainty regarding its renewal. Rather surprisingly, that concern was almost entirely dismissed only two days later by the Eswatini Electricity Company (EEC). But the concern of the minister of Commerce remains, regarding the need to achieve faster pace with licensing independent power producers, presumably with a special focus on solar or wind energy production. We can’t be depending forever on Uncle Cyril. Our people need to scream regularly for more convincing assurances of faster progress towards energy independence; and 2025 should be the target. Why scream? Because government and other responsible authorities have ducked and dived for years, with project after project either stillborn or drifting into the sand.

Part of our substantial coal resources is now doomed to an early obsolescence and a permanent residence under the ground; we missed the boat time and again. And it’s no good targeting 240MW, the country’s current demand. We desperately need faster economic growth; and that means an increase in the production of goods and services of value. Which will require … yes, lots more electricity. So, fellow emaSwati, please start screaming for regular and convincing evidence of action, and increased electricity generation. Keep nagging those concerned to demonstrate real pace. Pace of change, and not what we’re used to, which is pace of promise; followed by the drift. Let’s visualise what it would be like if we had massive power cuts; and just focus on one vulnerable area today – the food in the fridge and freezer. If you’re lucky to have those bits of kitchen equipment, an extended power cut would cause the food to go rotten, and fairly quickly. But would that have to happen? It isn’t very often I say ‘OMG’! Mainly because I don’t know what it means.


What, you might ask, caused me to utter this popular exclamation, not generally intended as blasphemous? Well, I read that you don’t need modern-style refrigeration to keep something cool; even in a very hot climate. Now that, to me, was earth-shattering, and apparently also earth-protecting. Ancient peoples, including the Greeks and Romans, cooled their food with ice, transported from the mountains. Pits were dug and insulated with wood and straw, to store the ice. In hot countries like Eswatini, the technique known as evaporative cooling was employed. Thus, if water is placed in shallow trays during the cool tropical nights, its rapid evaporation can cause ice to form in the trays, even if the air itself doesn’t fall below freezing temperatures. By controlling the conditions of evaporation, it is possible to form even large blocks of ice in this manner. Now that is impressive.

Putting it into practice, the ideal technique is using ceramic pots, sand and water. AKA the ‘portable refrigerator’, pursuing a process tried and tested over thousands of years by people in Africa. You get two of these unglazed ceramic pots, one of which has to be able to fit into the other. You pour sand to a five centimetres level at the base of the larger pot. The smaller pot goes into the larger one, and water is poured into the sand, with the pots covered with a ceramic lid or wet cloth. And that’s it. Done and dusted. After that, all you have to do is to put your food into the big pot, and remember to add water to the sand every day.


How does it work? As water evaporates through the clay, it releases energy into the air and cools the space inside the pot. It’s like splashing water on your face on a hot day; the water evaporates off your skin, cooling it in the process. Refrigerator coolant actually works in a similar way, using evaporation to draw heat out of the fridge itself. That’s why the back of your fridge is so warm. So the CS – Ceramic Solution – is great for people who don’t have fridges, want to cut their energy bills or don’t have any energy in the first place. The pot-in-pot technique is also super-beneficial for the environment since it doesn’t require any sort of fuel, much less oil or gas. These homemade coolers can make food last 10 times longer than in the outside temperature. Even more in arid climates, because water evaporates more when there’s less of it in the air. People living in areas without electricity can keep their vegetables fresh for three to four weeks, compared with one day out in the open. So I suggest the guys out there, who are obsessed with making pots of money, should reapply their energy to just providing the pots; then donate them to the poor.

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