EskomSePush just rolls off the tongue for South Africans. Whichever one of the official 11 languages you speak, it encapsulates exactly what we all want to shout when Eskom announces, “We regret to inform you that stage 1-2-3-4-5-6 will be implemented with immediate effect”.
And the real push of the matter is the haphazard changes of the load shedding schedule.
Before 2015 staying up to date with Eskom’s midlife crisis was a confused bag of WhatsApp forwards, and laminated schedules on a fridge’s door.
Dan Wells and Herman Maritz, two app builders from Stellenbosch were just as confused. They started to send load shedding notifications to themselves, then family and friends, and towards the end of 2014 the app officially launched as EskomSePush.
And now, it sits with more than 7 million app downloads.
EskomSePush: a name that fits like a glove
If you chuckle at the name, you’re not alone. But please tell your grandma that she can keep the soap and pepper on ice. Kind of.
The push boils down to push notifications. Or in other words: a ping you get on your phone when an app is closed.
And it just so happens to be that these app builders were in a lot of conference calls where the Afrikaans pronunciation for “push” had a certain ring to it.
It did not take a lot of imagination to name the app.
And even though the app is also known as ESP for short, the current situation just does not call for an abbreviation. There’s a bit of empowerment in saying EskomSePush!
The rise of EskomSePush
In less than a year after the app’s launch, they already had more than 200 000 users. It grew by 20 000 a day.
In the same year the app’s success stole the spotlight at the MTN App of the Year 2015 Awards for both the People’s Choice and Breakthrough Developer App.
Now, the app has more than 7 million active installs and when it comes to downloads, it outranked Uber, Mr Delivery and Netflix when load shedding was at its worst.
Thanks to the app’s expansion, the founders have quit their day jobs of pushing around banking apps. Hello darkness my old friend is now their day-to-day soundtrack and in light of the current situation one thing is sure: their job is secure for at least another decade.
The dark side of EskomSePush
EskomSePush is a firm believer that information is power (clearly the old adage of knowledge is power has not gotten South Africa that far). Therefore the AskMyStreet feature has been added where users can get answers to local issues like power, water, roads and even missing pets.
But for criminals, information is power as well.
At the end of November 2022 Carte Blanche reported that the app is also used amongst crime syndicates, especially in the illicit drug trade with anything from fentanyl patches and shrooms to prescription drugs readily available.
With the rise of social media and other apps, using the dark web for illicit crimes is as old as the Y2K panic. Criminals will always find a loophole.
In light of the Carte Blanche episode, EskomSePush did respond with what they are doing to keep the darkness at bay. And also how South Africans can take matters into their own hands and report other users.
And much like in the case of South Africa’s power situation that sees it all – from formal crime cartels operating to the opportunist committing a crime in the dark – corruption is rife.
It is everywhere.
It’s a disease – much like cancer – that spreads from its original location to affect another. And it just pushes on and on.