by Stanley Azuakola
You know a power outage is mega when it makes international news. Tuesday’s blackout in India falls squarely in that category. In fact such was the number of people affected that the outage made world record as the largest ever blackout.
By any count, 620 million people thrown in darkness is a very big deal –that’s like our Power Holding Company of Nigeria (formerly NEPA) ‘taking light’ at once in four ‘Nigerias’ put together.
The Indian blackout followed an electrical grid collapse of the northern, eastern and north-eastern grids on Tuesday afternoon. Factories, train stations, traffic lights and workshops across the 20 affected states were down for hours.
The Confederation of Indian Industry said the outages cost business hundreds of millions of dollars. Luckily, Mumbai, the financial centre, as well as the global outsourcing powerhouses of Bangalore and Hyderabad in the south were not affected.”
India’s new Power Minister Veerappa Moily told reporters that by Wednesday morning power had been fully restored across the country. The power minister only resumed as minister on Tuesday after the former power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde was promoted to the Home Ministry. The move attracted the criticism of some, with The Times of India newspaper saying that moving Shinde “is like changing the captain of the Titanic when it’s reeling after hitting a giant iceberg.”
Some officials said the blackout might have been the result of states drawing too much power from the grid. That position has been dismissed by some analysts who say if that was the cause, grid collapses would have been a more frequent occurrence.
The new minister however warned states to stick to a disciplined withdrawal of power.
“If they overdraw, this is the result. They can see for themselves. The entire grid will go black,” said the minister.
Moily cautioned that the power crisis has no quick solution, saying the government was looking at immediate and longer-term measures to address power scarcity.
Record keepers say that the Indian outage is the largest outage in the world, distantly followed by a 2005 blackout in Indonesia which affected 100 million people.
PS: We have avoided the temptation of speculating what position Nigeria might be on that blackout list so that India can endure its moment in the spotlight alone. It doesn’t always have to be about us.