In President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address in 2010, he committed the government to electrifying all of the country’s households by 2012, including those in informal settlements. In the 2011 State of the Nation Address, he claimed that 83% of the country had electricity supplied to households, however, the Department of Minerals and Energy’s “Electricity Backlog Summary” indicates that the number is closer to 64%. It appears that the existing backlogs as well as the exponential expansion of the country’s informal settlements are hindering the government from meeting its goals.
The good news is that Khayelitsha’s Nkanini informal settlement in Cape Town is due to be electrified, starting on 28 June 2012 and Eskom will take a year to complete the first phase. The city’s mayor, Patricia de Lille, informed residents at a meeting on 27 May that the project would be starting towards the end of June. Initially, it was due to start on 1 April, but there had been delays and miscommunications between the City and Eskom. As a result, residents remain sceptical about the Khayelitsha electricity issue, as promises had been made before, but not kept.
The problem with the properties at the informal settlement is that many illegal electricity connections had been made (as is common practice in informal settlements all over the country) and residents who had power were drawing it from other sources. With a lack of services, they said they had little choice as to where their power came from. The good news for residents at Khayelitsha is that electricity will eventually be supplied, but that in the meantime, cheaper, more efficient and more environmentally friendly sources of heating and cooking power are being explored for properties that don’t have easy access to electricity.
image courtesy of: ybl.co.za