South African Time: How Much Do You Know?

You have always heard that time does not lie. Maybe that is true, but there are different times, based on the part of the world one is in.

So also is the South African Time. While some countries share the same time, some cities within some countries do not.

There is, however, the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). This is the universal time which determines other times around the world. The UTC is the standard Time of the world. Countries that use the UTC are those that fall within the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) zones. Such countries include Ghana, Mali, and Senegal, as well as Iceland, Ireland, and United Kingdom’s main islands.

What is the time in South Africa now? It is not same as the UTC. Although some African and European countries have their time set on the UTC, South African time now is two hours faster. It was in 1903 that the current time used in the country began. This decision ensured that the country makes use of a single time for the entire country.

Since March 1st, 1903 when the time in South Africa got 30 minutes added to increase its current difference with UTC by 2 hours, the time has remained the same.

Local Time in South Africa

South African time is called South African Standard Time (SAST). Other countries that share SAST are Swaziland and Lesotho. Central African Time, as well as Eastern European Time, are like South African local Time, as they are also 2 hours ahead of the UTC.

South African local time is different from its neighboring country, Namibia, by an hour. Namibia, therefore, stands out among its neighboring countries; including Botswana which shares the same time with South Africa.

As a result of this time difference of plus two hours between GMT zones and South Africa, if you are leaving South Africa for a GMT zone on a plane that can get you there in two hours, you will arrive your destination the “exact time” you left South Africa.

From some countries, the local Time of South Africa can vary by up to 11 hours. For major destinations like Washington and England however, there are six hours and an hour differences respectively, with both behind.

Time Difference in South Africa

What time is it in Johannesburg? Unlike other countries that have some cities within them having different time zones, Johannesburg shares a similar time with the entire South Africa. Johannesburg time, however, like that of other parts of the country, differs from that of Prince Edward Island, which is in South East of Cape Town.

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While the entire South Africa has a 2-hour time difference from the standard Time, it has an hour’s time difference from Prince Edward Island. Prince Edward Island is in South Africa, somewhere close to the Indian Ocean. This means that if you are in Prince Edward Island, you get to see a new day before the rest of the country by an hour. It gets more interesting that you can “go back to yesterday” if you rush back to any other South African town from this Island at some minutes after a new day.

Time in South Africa: Future

In the past, there have been various attempts by the government to split the country’s time zone into two, as a result of energy challenges. The idea which is known as Daylight Saving Time (DST) has to do with adjusting the official time of a country by an hour to ensure the utilization of the evening light before it finally gets dark.

Prior to 1903, South Africa had a couple of time zones. It changed this and brought a unified time system for the entire country.

The idea of Adopting back the DST came back in 2008. It was thought that it would solve the power problems faced by the country as well as cut the cost of electricity, by rationing power at most needed times. The idea was however dropped after opposition from some quarters. More so, findings by the Ministry of Minerals and Energy indicated that the impact of changing or splitting the time may not have the desired effect.

The change in South African time has once happened, and plans have come up for it to happen again. What the future holds for the country’s time as to if it will remain united, can only be told by time and the country’s government.

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Tim van der Walt
Tim van der Walt
Tim is another of our talented writers, the one who plays music on replay, drinks more coffee than beer, plays video games, and reads poetry. In between, Tim reviews products, write about computers, games, and talk tech and arts. If there is a WIII, he thinks it could be caused by bad writing.


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