Thoughts on a day without electricity

Thoughts on a day without electricity

On March 31, a rare thing in our century happened in Turkey. A major power outage hit most cities in the country. It was a day to remember.

According to daily Hürriyet, a technical problem in the system of the Turkish Electricity Conduction Company (TEİAŞ), which operates energy transmission lines, led to the massive outage.

Doğan News Agency reported almost all 81 provinces were affected by the cuts, except for the eastern province of Van, which imports electricity from neighboring Iran.

Metro networks in Istanbul and Ankara, trams and the high-speed train in Eskişehir were all affected by the power cut, beginning at around 10:36 a.m. in Istanbul and continuing for hours.

There was traffic congestion in Istanbul during the morning, as commuters were unable to use the metro, Marmaray or trams in the city.

“This is not an incident that we see frequently,” Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said during a trip to Bratislava.

“Whether or not terrorism is a high possibility or a low one, I can’t say at this stage. I can’t say whether it is a cyber-attack either,” he said in response to questions from reporters.

I have learned three things from that day. One is the fact that there will never be a resignation from any authority ever in Turkey. If an energy minister doesn’t resign after failing to provide a whole country with electricity for a whole working day, I cannot imagine who would. I believe as long as no one takes blame for anything and acts as if nothing happened while everything crumbled during their watch, we will never see Turkey among the world’s top developed countries. I want to remind you that this is the same minister who did not resign after hundreds died in mining accidents last year.

The second thing I learned is the fact that Turkish people and businesses are very resilient. The whole day went by and people did not resort to panic, disorder or mayhem. Furthermore, business went on as usual. Everybody seemed to have generators and every institution had a disaster recovery for their servers. For a technology-using journalist, this was awesome to test and learn. We are 100 percent prepared for Armageddon. If you are a foreign businessmen thinking about investing in Turkey, please don’t hesitate to do so. I bet even the U.S. would be crippled after such an incident but Turkish CTOs passed this test with flying colors.

The third thing I learned is the fact that our telecommunications companies are truly world class. Sometimes we write that the Turkish mobile operators are globally competitive but on March 31, they really proved their worth to be on par with any major telecommunication company anywhere in the world. I am a Turkcell user and 3G never stopped; I could go on with business wherever I was. I am sure that Avea and Vodafone users felt the same gratitude to their mobile operators as I did. 

Furthermore, as far as I know, no downtime occurred in the servers hosted by Turkcell Superonline or Turk Telekom.

The conclusion: the government’s failures are easily absorbed by the Turkish business community, as mobile operators and disaster recovery systems are very resilient. Maybe Energy Minister Yıldız didn’t resign because it was a planned test of the Turkish business community’s responses. Who knows?