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The true percentage of South African households with access to electricity

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What is the percentage of South African households that are connected to electricity power supplies, either through the mains electricity supply, prepaid metres or conventional metres by province?

Overview

The electricity situation in South Africa has not been immune to its challenges. Household electricity supply is a basic service and need for every South African, as access to electricity is regarded as a basic human right for all, yet there are households without it.

The energy sector of South Africa, particularly as it relates to electricity, is one facing the biggest complication and strain with the implementation of load-shedding.

However, even as it is, not all South African households are powered, and one might wonder what the true percentage of electricity supplied households is.

South African households with access to electricity

South Africa is still trying to do away with the on-going years of the electricity supply crisis in the country. Along with many households still surviving without electricity, more issues are seemingly arising to add on to the inequality gap when it comes to access to basic services such as electricity supply.

South Africa introduced load-shedding as a way of managing and maintaining electricity demand and supply. This, on top of the fact that many were already without electricity, has brought about understandable frustration on South Africans and the country’s energy regulator, Eskom.

The true percentage of South African households with access to electricity

As of the year 2020, the percentage of South African households that had access to electricity had increased to 90 percent from 77 percent, which was recorded back in 2002, in the year of the first General Household Survey.

The General Household Survey sets out to assess and measure the diversity as well as the main sources of energy that are used by households to accommodate basic human needs such as cooking, lighting, heating water, and space heating.

The survey also seeks to measure the extent and capacity to which households are connected to and use the grid or mains electricity provided to them.

Different provinces reported different percentages of access to different sources of electricity, and also revealed the percentages of usage when it comes to what they are mostly using electricity for, in order to satisfy their basic needs.

What were the provincial percentages of households connected to the mains electricity supply?

The percentage of South African households that were connected to the mains electricity supply increased to 90 percent.

Households with access to mains electricity were highest and most common in the Northern Cape at 97.3 percent, with Limpopo following closely behind at 97.2 percent.

Households connected to the mains electricity supply were the least common in Gauteng at 84.4 percent.

The North West recorded 87.3 percent, and the largest increase in this regard was recorded in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo at 37.6 and 24.6 percentage points respectively. Gauteng seemingly declined by 3.8 points.

What were the percentage of households connected to other sources of energy?

Besides being connected to the mains electricity supply, many South Africa households are connected to alternative electricity sources such as prepaid metres and conventional metres. 80.6 percent of South African households were connected to electricity using a prepaid metre, while 12.3 percent were still using conventional metres.

A large percentage of households at 7.1 percent received their electricity supply from other sources such as a neighbour or landlord. This was highest in Gauteng at 14.1 percent, while the use of conventional metres was also highest in Gauteng at 22 percent and KwaZulu-Natal at 18.1 percent.

What were the main sources of energy used to cook?

The percentage of South African households that used electricity for cooking increased from 57.5 percent in 2002 to 78.5 percent in 2020. At the same time, the use of paraffin, coal and firewood decreased significantly.

The percentage of households that used paraffin decreased to 3.4 percent in 2020, the use of firewood decreased to 8.1 percent, while the percentage of households that used gas had increased to 4.5 percent.

The percentage of households using electricity for cooking was highest in Northern Cape at 86.9 percent, with theFree State standing at 85.5 percent. The lowest was seen in Limpopo at 60.7 percent.

Final thoughts

Electricity in South Africa is a basic service that South Africans are entitled to have access to. It is a necessity along with other basic services such as water and sanitation, healthcare, and housing amongst others. Many South Africans still, however, do not have access to electricity.

The percentage of South African households that have access to electricity was recorded at 90 percent for the year 2020. Many households are connected to the mains electricity supply while other households make up those that are connected to electricity through the means of a prepaid metre or a conventional metre.

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