South Africa supplies two-thirds of Africa's electricity. However, the demand for electricity in this region is high and, as the regions' economies grow, it continues to increase. Despite the cost of electricity production in South Africa being one of the lowest in the world, demand has outstripped supply and electricity prices have risen as a consequence.
Eskom, a state-owned utility organization, is responsible for providing 95 percent of South Africa's electricity.
The majority of South Africa's electricity comes from coal-fired power stations, and a small percentage from hydroelectric schemes. However, there are plans to diversify the country's electricity infrastructure to include the return to service of old power stations, the development of open-cycle gas turbines and alternative energy sources such as nuclear power, natural gas and renewable energy.
The Department of Energy is responsible for all policies regarding energy in South Africa.
The National Energy Regulator (NERSA) is a regulatory authority responsible for regulating the energy industry in South Africa.
Electricity is available in most parts of South Africa although some very rural parts are not connected to the grid. Due to the dense population in the cities, there is a lot of pressure on electricity supply at peak times, which sometimes results in black-outs. Electricity charges are based on consumption and prices increase for the winter months when demand is high.
South Africa uses 230V mains electricity.
While Eskom is the main supplier of electricity, there are a large number of distributors who deliver electricity to customers' homes. The distributors are responsible for maintaining the equipment for supplying electricity to customers and for providing the appropriate billing.
Electricity distribution has traditionally been managed by Eskom and local governments. There is a move to consolidate the number of distributors to six regional electricity distributors (REDs) who will be responsible for the whole country's electricity distribution. It is hoped that this move will result in the alignment of tariffs and an improvement in services.
Regional distributors include:
To set up an electricity account it is necessary to contact the local regional distributor or Eskom. Details of the regional distributors can be obtained from Eskom's Customer Service team.
A new billing and customer information system has been introduced by Eskom called CC&B (Customer Care & Billing System). This system allows customers to view and pay bills online.
There are also a number of other payment options available to customers, and payment is possible using the following methods:
When moving out of a house it is necessary to arrange for a final electricity reading to be taken and for the account to be closed. When moving to a house that has previously been occupied, it is necessary to take the meter reading straight away and give that reading to the electricity distributor. This reading will be used to open a new account.
The plugs in South Africa are the 3 pinned type, called Type M. This is an old British standard with 3 prongs. It is necessary to use a plug adapter for all appliances which do not have this type of plug.
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