SA electricity compared to other countries

SA electricity compared to other countries

2014-12-12 21:15

Johannesburg - More than a century after the light bulb was invented, South Africans are being plunged into darkness amid rolling blackouts.

Even with a cash injection from the government and permission to keep hiking electricity tariffs, Eskom said its financial health is “under strain”.

A spokesperson for Eskom told Fin24: “Eskom needs to keep the lights on and this has a cost. For historical reasons, electricity is currently charged at below cost-reflective levels and is not sustainable.”

But having already stomached price rises, many households suffering blackouts across the country have little sympathy as they face a further 12.69% rise in electricity prices next year - double the rate of inflation.

Almost 40 000 people have joined a Facebook protest page promising to “bring power back to the people, one household at a time”.

So how do South African electricity prices and performance measure up? Fin24 finds out.

READ: No power cuts until January - Eskom

Cheaper in Nigeria

Across the globe, residential electricity in Africa is among the most expensive in the world, according to the World Bank.

This is mainly down to the cost of the technology needed to generate power, and the small
scale of most African power generation systems.

African households spend up to 150% more on power than those in Latin America, Eastern
Europe or East Asia.

In sub-Saharan Africa meanwhile, the average price of power is double that of other developing regions.

That said, the range is huge - from the cheapest in Zambia at 2.9 cents per 100 kw/hour, to the most expensive in Chad - at 30 cents per 100 kw/hour. And South Africa ranks as the fourth cheapest, after Zambia, Madagascar and Nigeria.

These findings, included in a World Bank power tariff report in 2011, are the most heavily relied on as they take into account all charges - variable and fixed, and are based on a specific level of energy use.

READ: Power to be tight until March

Affordable for most

In terms of affordability, the World Bank finds that South Africans are also more able to afford electricity than neighbouring sub-Saharan Africans.

Data shows 100% of South Africans who pay for electricity can currently afford 50 kw/hour at
the average tariff without spending more than 5% of their household budget.

Though the Bank points out that this doesn’t take into account the spending power of households who do not have electricity. Since 1994, South Africans’ access to electricity has jumped from around 30% of the country to 70%. For most sub-Saharan African nations, access remains below 30%.

(Source: AICD Power Taris Database/World Bank 2011)

Generating game

Despite the current crisis, South Africa has the capacity to generate vast amounts more power than the region as a whole.

We can generate 10 times as much power as Nigeria for example, despite having a far smaller
population, according to the report.

But Africa overall delivers a tiny amount of electricity compared to the rest of the world.
The World Bank states that the whole sub-Saharan region of 48 countries - with a population of 800 million - generates roughly the same amount of power as Spain - which has a population of 45 million.

Efficiency fails

Though South Africa generates more power at an affordable level than other sub-Saharan
nations, it falls behind the average rating for efficiency.

Power outages and rising costs have pushed many individuals and companies alike to buy their
own generators.

South African firms without generators lose $1 140 (about RR13 000) an hour, according to the World Bank, while those with generators lose a far smaller $66 an hour.

South Africa scores 72% for efficiency, significantly below the regional average of 82%, World Bank statistics show.

What’s more, even though South Africa has put up prices, Eskom has not been able to fully
cover the costs of producing our electricity - it covers 84% of its costs.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille pointed this out last week: “Dramatically increased electricity prices for other consumers have not compensated for the so-called ‘industrial savings’”.

She went further, claiming that the cost of electricity “only encourages people to use even less”, which threatens to pull down Eskom’s revenues further.

Indeed, the World Bank report states that the high charges consumers must pay to connect to
an electricity network are a “major obstacle” to lighting up sub-Saharan Africa.

So rather than getting better, our access to electricity could get worse.

ALSO READ: Govt's 5-point plan for Eskom

  • rene.rossouw.35 - 2014-12-12 23:30

    Apparently it is all the fault of apartheid, according to Mr Showerhead-Zuma! It is not the fault of poor management and absolutely NO maintenance and planning for the future. All available money goes for fancy cars, Nando's and private jets.

      vincent.surics - 2014-12-13 09:21

      It's clear that Zuma's visit to a psychiatrist is long overdue

      Chris Nash - 2014-12-13 12:06

      You can all comment as much as you like, it is just rhetoric. You can call him a dumb ass, he doesn't care, but he makes a statement like that, it is reported that way to the Sheeple & that is what they will believe, therefore continue to vote for him. The masses will not see your comments. We had our chance in '92 & blew it. Apartheid is to blame for the blackouts, because we gave away the responsibility for maintaining all of the services to people unable & unwilling to do it.

      Antinewstf Person - 2014-12-14 11:24

      BTW I don't live in those other African cesspits. I live here in SA and pay my taxes here, of which I receive nothing in return but blame from this useless backward anc cess pool.

  • Paul Saenen - 2014-12-13 07:46

    Fail. I pay almost 100 cents per kWh. 3 times more than the second most expensive country. So do all South Africans except the 30% who steal their electricity.

      Richard Webster - 2014-12-14 10:36

      The prices in the graph above are in US cents.

      Julia Leftwich - 2014-12-14 13:57

      And I pay R1.53/kWh for the first R600 a month and more after that. Really cheap. Not.

  • sharon.cambier - 2014-12-13 09:04

    I fear after our president opened he's mouth yesterday about the electricity crisis being the fault of apartheid.... Well Mr President it may be so or not, but at the same time why did you allow our country to be overrun with millions of illegals? Just wondering...

  • sharon.cambier - 2014-12-13 09:06

    Oh heck I forgot to actually say what I wanted, and that is.... Our rand is going to drop some more. Like a stone in water

  • Michael Abdinor - 2014-12-13 09:50

    How about comparing costs to first world countries?

      lacrimosewolf - 2014-12-13 10:12

      How will that help when we don't have a first world economy nor get paid first world salaries/wages?

  • Bertus Pretorius - 2014-12-13 12:29

    I will be sure to remember this article when I am in darkness when the next load shedding comes around...pfft

  • Tokyo Rose - 2014-12-13 13:46

    Comments on electricity prices always refer to prices per kWh. However my Eskom bill has at least 6 other charges on it - admin charge, network access charge, electrification subsidy, environmental levy and service charge which increase the rate I am paying for kWh. Also in winter I pay a much higher seasonal rate per kWh. Furthermore different municipalities charge wildly differing rates per kWh, also prepaid differs from post paid. So I don't know how you can in any way compare prices worldwide.

  • CyberDog Breath - 2014-12-13 16:16

    Wait, so this comparison does not even include the tax money being used to prop up the industry... That is a bit distorted, Ok, now lets compare prices to first world countries... oh Wait, South Africa no longer able to compete.

  • Seth Kutoane - 2014-12-13 16:51

    OffGrid is the way to go, why waste time about this idiot, 20 f cking years later he still blames apartheid, why have leader with no vision, they knew 20 year ago what they inherited, why did they not sort it then, who is he deceiving? Bloody idiot!!

  • Richard Young - 2014-12-14 13:05

    Is Eksdom still selling energy to Billiton/Alusaf at 10c/kWh?

  • Allan Pillay - 2014-12-14 17:58

    I pay R 1.00 per kw/h so per 100 kw its R 100 at 12 rand to the dollar its 80 us cents per 100kw /h , which is 2.6 times more than what the african average is . Figures can be bent to suit perception but not reality .

  • Bernhard Scheffler - 2014-12-19 17:06

    The electricity costs in this article are completely fictitious. They are given in cent per 100 kw/h, without specifying whether this is dollar or rand cents, or ??. But there is no energy unit kw/h. Electricity costs are normally quoted as a cost per kWh (kWh is something very different from kW/h).

  • Bernhard Scheffler - 2014-12-19 17:13

    The article states that the MOST EXPENSIVE cost of electricity in Africa is 30 cent per 100 kw/h. That sounds like 0.3 cent per kWh -- rather a lot less than what we pay in SA, where the retail cost at least 400 times as much -- over R1.20

  • Frank Eric Eardley - 2015-05-12 12:54

    Isn't it amazing? They say that Eksdom need something like 5.5 TRILLION Rand to get them out of the dwang. Then you hear the acting CEO make comments like "We have to look very carefully at how we can pay bonuses" What on earth for??? That is the sole cause of the dilemma they find themselves in. They have screwed up badly by not planning for the future in building new Power Stations, and then neglecting to do maintenance on the existing Power Stations. What's the difference between South Africa and the Titanic? When the Titanic went down, it had all it's lights on!

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