EskomSePush cracks 12 million installs — and has big plans for the future

Load-shedding stage and schedule-tracking app EskomSePush (ESP) has recorded a significant increase in users over the past year.

2023 has been South Africa’s worst year of load-shedding by a substantial margin.

The gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity shed from the grid using load-shedding exceeded 2022’s figures in May 2023.

After the first half of the year, 15,300GWh of power was lost to load-shedding, 30% higher than in the entire 2022.

By 6 September, the power cuts in 2023 stood at 19,794GWh, more than all the load-shedding between 2015 and 2022.

South Africans naturally need to be able to plan around the outages, which has led to a surge in downloads of apps like ESP.

ESP co-founder Hermann Maritz recently spoke to MyBroadband about the app’s growth in the past year.

Maritz revealed that ESP has been installed 9 million times on Android devices and 3 million times on iPhones.

Another 360,000 users downloaded ESP from the Huawei AppGallery.

The 12.36 million installs are well over double the number the app had in October 2022, just over a year ago.

The highest number of users that used the app in one day was 12 September 2023, when ESP recorded 3.9 million unique users.

Initially just a side project for Maritz and ESP’s other founder, Dan Southwood-Wells, ESP now has three full-time employees.

This has enabled it to accelerate improving its existing features and expanding the app with further capabilities.

In 2023 alone, the app added or improved the following features:

  • Load-shedding Timeline — A visual timeline showing when load-shedding will occur in a user’s chosen areas. Makes it easier for users to remember when an outage will impact them.
  • Calendar Integration — Syncing of load-shedding schedules with personal calendars.
  • Homescreen & Lockscreen Widget — Allows users to see the load-shedding status at a glance without opening the app. Requires a Supporter subscription, priced at R29.99 per month.
  • Expanded Area Coverage — Added more areas to be up-to-date for every municipality in South Africa with the latest schedules.
  • Improved Area Recommendations  — The app now suggests nearby areas based on a user’s location.
  • AskMyStreet Enhancements — Upgraded AskMyStreet, making it more robust and user-friendly. ESP says it’s a great way for communities to stay connected and support each other to get the information they need.

Maritz told MyBroadband that each feature was designed with its users in mind, aiming to make dealing with load-shedding a smoother, more manageable experience.

On the fun side, ESP also added its take on the classic mobile game Snake within the app. It can be opened by double-tapping on the ESP logo.

“It’s our little way of helping you pass the time when the lights go out,” ESP said.

New Area Alerts feature

While many South Africans would find it hard to believe that load-shedding will ever be over, ESP is preparing for this possibility.

If the national power outages truly become a thing of the past thanks to new generation coming online in the coming years, ESP risks becoming redundant.

As part of evolving beyond load-shedding, Maritz said that ESP was rolling out a feature called Area Alerts.

“We’re super excited about our latest venture,” Maritz said. “It’s all about creating a community that’s safer, more informed, and connected,” ESP said.

Maritz explained Area Alerts are almost like having a neighbourhood watch in your pocket.

“Whether it’s unexpected power outages, water supply issues, weather, safety concerns, we’ve got you covered.”

“Imagine knowing ahead of time if your water is going to be off for maintenance, or getting a prompt alert about safety issues in your vicinity.”

Now read: Eskom launches big battery storage project

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EskomSePush cracks 12 million installs — and has big plans for the future