Sun is king! Government serving up more solar systems to the poor
Three metropolitan municipalities - Johannesburg‚ Tshwane and Ekurhuleni - have provided taxpayer-funded "free" solar home systems to almost 57‚200 households‚ as this form of energy grows in popularity‚ Statistics South Africa data shows.
Across the country‚ there are 22 municipalities providing free solar electricity systems - seen as a safer off-grid energy source than paraffin and candles - to the poor.
This equates to about 113‚200 households (3.2% of the 3.5 million indigent households nationwide) which benefited from this service.
"It comes as no surprise that this percentage has gone up‚ from 2.8% in 2016. The country basks in sunshine throughout the year..." the Stats SA report noted.
Of South Africa’s 213 local and metropolitan municipalities‚ a total of 49 (which includes those providing solar systems) indicated that they are servicing indigent households with at least one form of off-grid energy source.
These are households that are located in an area that doesn’t have access to the power grid or which do not have the means to afford other forms of energy.
Over 86‚500 indigent households (2.5% of the 3.5 million indigent households nationwide) benefit from free paraffin in 20 municipalities. These municipalities are clustered in Eastern Cape and Northern Cape‚ with two municipalities in North West.
There are also still households in South Africa that rely heavily on candles. Just over 5% of South Africa’s 16.6 million households use candles as a main source of lighting‚ according to the General Household Survey (GHS) 2016 report.
Seven municipalities provide candles as an off-grid source to almost 13‚700 indigent households‚ comprising 0.4% of indigent households nationwide‚ said Stats SA.
Fire gel is used as a source of free off-grid energy in 10 municipalities in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal‚ benefiting just over 19‚600 households (0.6% of all indigent households).