Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What happens when the light goes out – made in China

The state-run Ghanaian electricity company is periodically turning off electricity because of power shortages. One night we had no electricity in the house of my friends in Accra. As a precaution they had recently bought two Chinese-made lamps with battery chargers, each giving light bright enough to light a room for reading. That night, unfortunately, one of the freshly charged lamps went out after 5 minutes. I opened the lamp, and fiddled with the electrical contacts between bulb and battery. The light went on again. My friend then decided to go to bed and took the working lamp with her. My children and I were left with the temperamental lamp, which went out again after 3 minutes. Opening up the lamp cover under the weak light of another flashlight and fiddling with the contacts got the lights back on for another 3 minutes. After having repeated this process 4 times, my kids and I decided to give up on reading and went to bed. Next morning both lamps worked fine again, as did the electrical power grid.
Lights made in China can be quite fickle – even more so in Ghana.

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