More than 1 million South African households have been electrified in the past four years, which translates to over 84% connections annually, South African minister of energy Dipuo Peters bragged early this week in Cape Town, during a budget speech delivered at the Imbizo Centre in Parliament.
Official statistics show that only 58% of South African households had access electricity in 1996, but that number increased to 70% in 2001. The Community Survey of 2007 placed access to electricity in Africa’s biggest economy at 80%.
Despite these new developments, many destitute communities, especially those living in informal settlements without running water, paved roads, street names and clinics, are still longing for light which they hope will help them do away with candles and paraffin stoves that often cause deadly fires to their make-shift houses built with pieces of cardboard and wood.
Peters, whose department has been allocated only a budget of R6.5 billion (693 million USD) for the 2013/14 financial year, 2% less than in 2012/13, said the country’s Integrated National Electrification Programme (INEP) will get an allocation of R3.8 billion (405 million USD). “Of this amount Eskom and the municipalities that act as the implementing agents, will receive R2.1 billion (224 million USD) and R1.6 billion (170 million USD), respectively. We are confident that we will deliver 220 000 new electricity connections in this budget cycle,” the former Northern Cape Premier said.
Eskom, South Africa’s state-controlled power supplier that produces 95% of the country’s electricity from coal, is one of Africa’s biggest greengas house emitters. In 2010 the company got a whopping loan of 3.75 billion USD (nearly R35 billion) from the World Bank to ‘help South Africa achieve a reliable electricity supply, and finance some of its renewable energy projects’.
Reflecting on the past four years since the department of energy (DoE) was created, (meaning separated for the former department of mines and energy), Peters hailed the DoE for ‘working hard’ to deliver on the responsibilities bestowed upon it – responsibilities which she said includes developing policies, strategies and programmes that promoted national economic development and job creation.
She however did not say how many jobs DoE has created since 2009.
Peters also revealed that the DoE has installed more than 350 000 solar water heater geysers in various neighbourhoods in the effort to reach the government’s goal of 1 million.