South African national power supplier Eskom’s proposed 16% electricity price increase has paved the way to a flurry of public hearings, which kicked off yesterday in Cape Town, in the Western Cape province. The hearings, being hosted by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA), will provide a platform for the public to make their inputs on the proposed tariff hike, the South African Department of Energy said in a statement yesterday.
South Africa is Africa’s economic powerhouse and one of the biggest exporters of electricity on the continent, but experts say the country faces severe power shortage due to years of negligence, lack of consistent investment and reforms, weak leadership, dubious policies and mismanagement.
In 2010, Eskom got a loan of 3.75 billion USD in 2010 from the World Bank to fund its power projects and improve the country’s electricity supply. The company’s latest proposed electricity increase has been met with anger and frustration, both from the unions and ordinary citizens, and it is believed that tempers will flare and tensions will be high at these hearings.
Many observers believe that protests could erupt if the increase goes ahead, as the hike will push the cost of life even higher than it currently is. The Department of Energy has launched a desperate plea to all sectors of the South African economy to participate in these public hearings, to ensure that NERSA considers all the views, as it independently considers the application by Eskom.
“We believe that there should be understandings of the tariff application content by all affected stakeholders in order to provide constructive inputs at these public hearings,” the Department of Energy said. Furthermore, the department urges those who cannot make it to make their voices heard by calling in or sending in written submissions to Nersa to the following contact details:
Telephone: (27) 12 401-4715 or (27) 12 401-4033, Fax: (27) 12 401-4700, physical Address: Kulawula House, 526 Vermeulen Street Arcadia, Pretoria, postal Address: P O Box 40343 Arcadia 0007 South Africa.
The following is the list of venues of all the public hearings nationwide: Note that the time is 8.30am to 5pm.
Tuesday 15 January, Western Cape, Cape Town, ICC
Wednesday 16 January, Eastern Cape, P-E, Summerstrand Hotel
Thurs 17 January, KZN, Durban, ICC
Monday 21 January Free State, Bloemfontein, Mangaung Metro Council Building
Tuesday 22 January, Northern Cape, Kimberley, Christian Revival Church
Wednesday 23 January, North West, Potch, Elgro Hotel
Friday 28 January, Mpumalanga, Nelspruit, Orion Hotel
Tuesday 29 January Limpopo, Polokwane, Jack Botes Hall, Municipality Hall
Wednesday 30 January, Gauteng Midrand, Gallagher Convention Centre
Thursday 31 January, Gauteng Midrand, Gallagher Convention Centre
*Photo by M & G.