A degraded new normal happens over time, incident by incident, until you forget what you have lost, writes DIANNA GAMES
Published in Business Day Sa, 16 February 2015
THE destruction of value in a country is seldom a single event. It is a slow erosion, an incremental shift in perceptions and expectations, year by year, incident by incident, until one day what has been destroyed is largely forgotten and there is a new normal. People no longer complain or protest about what they have lost because they have found a way to adapt to a degraded situation.
An example of this is easily found in the power sector in Africa.
On a trip to Lagos in Nigeria many years ago I couldn’t help but notice the thumping sound of generators around every corner. SA’s lights were on 24 hours a day, barring calamities like lightning strikes, and back-up generators were a novelty.
I commented frequently on this striking contrast between the two great economies of Africa.
It wasn’t always like this, a Nigerian friend said. In the 1960s the Lagos grid functioned properly. But decades of underinvestment in the power sector by successive governments with other priorities had brought Nigeria to a situation where installed capacity of just 4,000MW was all that was available to serve a country of 160-million people.