There are certain apps that are absolutely and specifically tailored to the South African market, and many of these usually do quite well in the local app stores. One could say its loyalty and national pride, but in the case of EskomSePush (available on iOS and Android) it must be a case of necessity.

The national electricity provider recently drew the ire of South African consumers when it announced the return of load shedding for the first time since 2018, and the darkness is back with a vengeance, with Eskom announcing the implementation of stage 4 load shedding on 11 February.

The designers of EskomSePush are smiling, though, because this app, which provides users with the load shedding schedule for their area, as well as push notifications when load shedding comes into effect, quickly took the top spots on app stores.

With 2500 users just a week before, downloads of EskomSePush soared after the announcement of stage 4 load shedding by Eskom, and the number of users now stands at over 400 000.

EskomSePush became the most downloaded app on the South African iOS App store in the same week, and was the second-most downloaded app after WhatsApp on the South African Google Play Store.

The creators of EskomSePush, Dan Wells and Herman Maritz, are thrilled at the success of the app, which they first released in 2014 using a service called PushBullet. Just six weeks after the launch of their app, downloads had reached upward of 100 000, eventually peaking at 250 000 users before load shedding was suspended later in 2014.

But now the app is back and more popular than ever, and Wells and Maritz are inviting any experienced mobile or Javascript developers in search of a side-project to email them on iwanttohelp@sepush.co.za.

Speaking to Business Insider, Maritz explains that the development of the app started as a joke, but it turned out that they were tapping into a need that they didn’t realise was so prevalent.

“We wanted to know when load shedding was happening so that we could plan around it over our December holidays,” Maritz told Business Insider.

“We laughed about making this simple push notification service.”

EskomSePush won the People’s Choice Award and the Breakthrough Developer App Award at the 2015 MTN App of the Year Awards, proving that a light bulb moment is sometimes the result of a lack of any light at all.

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