S.Africa’s poor strained by high electricity tariffs: analyst


Electricity tariffs in South Africa have risen by above the inflation rate since 2006, this is despite the country’s rates being among the cheapest in the continent.

A Frost & Sullivan electricity tariffs study said the country remained well below tariffs of most countries in Africa.

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South Africa’s tariffs have risen at a rate of 5.1 per cent since 2006 to a peak of 31.3 per cent in 2009-10, this is according to the report.

Yelland, an energy analyst at EE Publishers told CNBC Africa that even though higher tariffs were an aspiration, affordability could make poor people poorer.

“There is a big difference between the price of electricity and affordability,” said Yelland.

The comment comes on the backdrop of South Africa being regarded as the country with the cheapest tariffs in the continent.

“While we may have low electricity tariffs but because we have a high rate of electrification by the world standards rate, our electrification means that even poor people are electrified,” he added.

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“If electricity is supplied to people who can’t afford it and are using it for consumptive purpose then you actually increase their level of poverty as their disposal incomes are reduced.”

However, there are a number of African countries that are lower than South Africa both on residential and industrial tariffs.

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Yelland said other countries that had lower tariffs in the continent were Zambia, Ghana and Egypt as they were highly subsidised.