The impact of electricity tariff increase on indigent women in South Africa
This article looks at the persistent electricity tariff hikes in South Africa and their impact on women, especially the indigent women considering the fact that many indigent women are single parents and they rely solely on conventional electricity being supplied by Eskom for virtually all their domestic and enterprise activities. While Eskom generates and supplies electricity, the price with which it supplies to the consumer is determined by National Energy Regulator (NERSA). In the event of any electricity price review, NERSA has to grant Eskom permission to increase or not to increase the tariff. In recent years, Eskom has continuously been approaching NERSA for permission to increase the cost of electricity considering that it is the only regulator with mandate to approve any price increases. These increases are huge burden on women and many households despite the Free Basic Electricity (FBE) which is not adequate for an average household. This article indicates that it is unfair to transfer the financial debt that has been accumulated as a result of corruption, mal-administration and mismanagement by Eskom to consumers, especially indigent women. It is suggested that the FBE programme should continue but remarkable reform should be made to make the incentive more useful and adequate. At the same time other off grid electricity provisions should continue to be explored and deployed.
Keywords: Electricity, Exorbitant prices, denial of access, Empowerment, Indigents.