Dealing with the ever present power cuts in Zimbabwe


light-bulbThey say there are two things that are certain in life: Death and Taxes. I think I must add, “there are two things that are certain in Zimbabwe power cuts and dry taps.” It has happened so often most people have simply stopped being surprised about it. It does not seem to matter who you are – hospitals and clinics are not spared, schools or just a lonely geek like me who just wants to post his secrets on Facebook – we are all plunged into darkness at inauspicious moments.

My colleague has advocated for the use of solar power in these dark moments. Solar is a great substitute but the problem with it is that it tends to be a bit expensive and, depending on your needs, in order for you to completely meet your needs you might have to borrow your neighbours’ roofs. You might even need a battery full of rooms to go with that as well. Besides it looks like summer is upon us (and speaking as a man raised on Solar power) you are likely to run out of power on cloudy days.

Of course if you have a big budget like Hippo Valley or Katiyo Estate you could just build your own power plant. What if all you wanted was just a way to stay online so you could chat with your friends, post your complaints about the power cuts on social networking sites, monitor the status of your servers and check football and sports scores?


Here is what you could do

  • Buy a small generator for your computer,Laptop, tablet and smartphones. There are available pretty much everywhere. If you drive a hard bargain you can get one at Gulf Complex for around $60. Please note these are “Zhing zhongs.” You will have to pay for fuel of course but since this will be for backup purposes the cost might not amount to much.

  • Buy a tablet if you do not already have one. Most tablets are power efficient when compared to computers. In my next article I will look at how you can get a 3G tablet for less than $130.There are many apps out there to keep track of your servers, chat or do whatever it is that you do online.

  • Buy a power bank for your mobile devices. If you do your math right you can charge your smartphone or tablet for up to five times. You can buy one online here.

  • Buy a universal Laptop charger. This will allow you to charge your Laptop using your vehicle’s power port. You can obviously charge your phone or tablet using a car charger.

  • When you are using Solar Power use a Laptop instead of a Desktop. The latter tends to waste a lot of energy.

  • Buy an SSD drive they use less energy when compared to traditional moving drives of course the savings are not enough for you to write home about but they can grant you a few more precious extra minutes online.

  • Unplug all the USB devices you are not using. Most people have this habit where they keep a USB memory stick plugged in even when they hardly ever use it.

  • Avoid using Optical drives ( I wonder who still uses those anyway.)

  • Switch off your WiFi adapter unless you need it. Like with USB devices most people tend to keep the adapter on needlessly.

  • Avoid gaming and other disk intensive operations unless it’s work of course.

  • Invest in VPN at work and use Remote Desktop apps on your tablet or smartphone. I use a VPS in France which I can access on my smartphone to do all sorts of complex stuff.

  • Open Task Manager and close all unwanted services. You might need to Google the name of each service and learn what each service does.

I am sure there are a lot of power saving techniques such as putting your computer in power saving mode. As always Google is your friend in such instances. You are also free to add any great tips you have in the comments section.

Picture from UNP

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