Expeditious deployment of electricity solutions for the poor in South Africa

Ngomane, Cynthia
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The rate of electrification for the indigent rural communities in South Africa has slowed down over the years. The South African electrification programme aimed to provide universal access to electricity by 2012, but this deadline was not realized. The new target is the year 2025. In its initial phases, the programme achieved many connections annually. Currently, the electrification backlogs are comprised of 75% rural areas and 25% urban areas (mostly informal settlements). The study focuses on the delays in the electrification of rural areas and on what can be done to address the challenges. A qualitative design method was adopted for this study, where an interview schedule was utilized to gather data from the pertinent stakeholders in the electrification process for the poor. Recent literature was also utilized in informing the findings to this research. South Africa has performed extraordinarily well in achieving the 87% electrification level. However there are a number of challenges that are curtailing the rate of electrification for the poor in rural areas. These challenges include the lack of integrated planning amongst the stakeholders, the financial challenges, the inefficiencies within the Electricity Distribution Industry (EDI) and the negative perceptions towards non-grid technologies. The Department of Energy needs to revolutionize the electrification methods to be able to ensure universal access by 2025. The electrification methods that worked 20 years ago need to be enhanced drastically for progress to be made, especially in the rural areas. The focus needs to be on integrated planning, ensuring quality monitoring processes, attracting private funding, the enhanced marketing of non-grid solutions and ensuring that electricity solutions enable socio-economic development for the poor, rural communities.
Electric power distribution;Rural electrification;Poor -- South Africa.