SA light years ahead of Africa

Image courtesy: stock.xchng

Image courtesy: stock.xchng

For all the challenges Eskom and the Department of Energy are facing in terms of generation infrastructure limitations in South Africa, the country remains leaps and bounds ahead of its African counterparts in terms of household access to electricity.

This was shown at an electrification workshop held in Sandton yesterday, where representatives of member countries of the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership and the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) met to discuss, among other issues, localised challenges in meeting supply and demand needs.

Opening the two-day workshop, SAPP chief engineer Alison Chikova showed, by way of comparative performance figures sourced from the Initiative for an International Renewable Energy Agency, that South Africa is well ahead of SAPP’s other affiliated countries in terms of generation capacity and household access to electricity.

South Africa had – despite a 50.5 million population, more than double that of Mozambique, the next most populous on the list at 23.4 million – achieved 80% electrification access, meaning that at least 80% of households countrywide used electricity as a source of light.

Eskom’s Seya Shayi yesterday said the 2011 Census put South Africa’s access rate at just under 85%, with more connections since likely to have increased the figure closer to government’s ultimate goal of 97% access by 2025.

Access had grown substantially since 1994, when only 36% access – 12% of which was rural – was available, Shayi said.

South Africa far exceeded the SAPP membership’s 31% weighted access average, with Botswana and Swaziland showing the next best access rate at 45% each, while Malawi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo recorded 10% and 11.1% rates respectively – the lowest for the 12 countries.

The countries affiliated to SAPP also include Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Zambia and Tanzania.

SAPP’s vision is to develop a competitive electricity market in the southern African region and “ensure it becomes the region of choice for investment by energy intensive users”.

South Africa’s 44 170MW installed capacity also far exceeded that of second-placed Democratic Republic of Congo, which, in February this year, had 2 442MW of supply capacity on its grid.

Future demand forecasts for eight of the countries exceeded current capacity, while only Angola and Mozambique had “healthy” reserves of 15%.

South Africa and Tanzania had sufficient capacity, but at much lower supply and demand margins, which could stunt economic growth.


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