15 November 2013
The number of South African households with electricity has increased by almost 50% over the last 10 years, according to Statistics South Africa’s latest survey on household energy.
Releasing the survey in Pretoria on Thursday, Statistician-General Pali Lehohla said the number of South African households with legal electricity connections had increased by 49% between 2002 and 2012, from 8.3-million to 12.4-million households.
Lehohla said the gap had been closed with the addition of 4.1-million connections over the 10-year period, despite 3.8-million new households being added over the same period, bringing the total number of households to 14.6-million in 2012.
In all, 85.3% of households were connected to the electricity grid in 2012, up from 77.1% in 2002. Of the 15% still not connected by last year, four percent had no electricity access, while 11% were connected to electricity but not via the mains, with many of these being illegal connections.
He said that since the introduction of free basic electricity in 2005, the number of households that qualified for the provision had steadily declined, from 45.8% to 27.5% last year, because of the sharpening of the criteria to qualify for the provision.
Lehohla said it was concerning that 12.6% of South Africans, mainly in the country’s rural areas, still used wood for cooking. He recommended that the country provide more off-grid power solutions and renewable energy sources for poor households, particularly in rural areas where provision of electricity from the grid was not cost-effective.
South Africa should also introduce effective and efficient technologies to reduce the hazards of using solid fuels for heating, cooking and lighting, Lehohla said.
Statistics SA’s survey also revealed that among households with a per capita income of under R390 a month, just 79% had electricity connections, compared to 94% for those with monthly incomes of R4 000 or more.
While 94% of formal homes and 91% of state-subsidised homes were connected to the grid, just 54% of households in informal areas and 63% in traditional areas had connections to the grid.
Over three-quarters of South Africans use the pre-paid method to pay for their electricity, with just 21% opting to pay for their electricity by way of monthly bills – ranging from six percent in rural areas to 27% in urban areas.
Nationally, only 4.6% of households do not pay for their electricity, according to the survey. In all, 3.4% of households reported that their electricity had been cut off in the 30 days prior to the survey because of non-payment.
The survey also revealed that households consume 13% of South Africa’s electricity, with manufacturing industry the country’s biggest user, consuming 49%.
Other findings from the survey include:
- Households spend on average R2 494 a month on electricity, gas and other fuels.
- In all, 18% of rural households and 8.4% of urban dwellers use candles and paraffin for lighting.
- 57% of households said it was acceptable to protest about electricity prices, while 97% reported that it was never acceptable to steal electricity.