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The impact of rising electricity tariffs on the poor

Client: Oxfam (UK)

Period: 2012 – 2014

Project leader: Gisela Prasad

Project team: Gisela Prasad, Lana Franks

This study sought to determine – mainly through quantitative analyses – the impact of rising electricity tariffs on the poor. This involved the development and administering of a questionnaire in the Imizamo Yethu township in Hout Bay (South Africa). Data was analysed using SPSS. This study largely focuses on changes to household consumption for the tariff change of 1 July 2012 for the City of Cape Town customers. Electricity consumption data obtained from the City of Cape Town is used to to verify and supplement questionnaire findings.

Some of the main findings include:

  • Tariff increases have been minimal and kept below inflation for small to medium power users, which includes the majority of poor households.
  • Tariff increases for large power users have been significantly higher than inflation.
  • Tariff increases are not the problem; sharing a meter is.
  • The tariff is not the problem; a lack of tariff literacy is.