Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Consumers bear brunt of 'power' struggle

Beleaguered South African consumers and businesses have been suffering crippling electricity power cuts in the last year, despite a report published in 2006 that warned of threats to the country’s electricity supply.

To add insult to injury, Eskom (the state-owned energy supplier/provider) announced its intentions to raise electricity prices by 60%.

Last week, the National Consumer Forum (NCF) of South Africa made a submission to the hearings held by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) into Eskom's request for electricity price increases.

As part of their submission NCF argues that Eskom’s proposed 60% price hike will deny consumers their rights to affordable electricity – a mainstay of the South African Government’s efforts to alleviate poverty and raise quality of life.

In 1994, only 34% of South Africans had electricity in their homes. Eskom, under instruction of the South African Government has spent the last 15 years making electricity available to all sectors of society/the poor and today three quarters of the country’s population enjoys the benefits of electricity.

This intended price increase will have completely the opposite effect! Making electricity, once again, an unaffordable commodity for large parts of South African society and a staggering number of consumers who have only just recently discovered the joys of flicking a light switch.

NCF's Consumer Fair bi-monthly newspaper is a good place to start if you would like some more information about this issue, especially Edition 12, January - February 2008.

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