Understanding Energy Poverty in South Africa

N. Mohlakoana*, Peta Wolpe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientificpeer-review


This chapter provides an overview of energy poverty in South Africa through a sample of electrified low-income households in one municipality located in the heart of the country's coal region. Despite democracy and the many policies in place to redress the injustices of the Apartheid regime, the country continues to have extremely high levels of poverty, energy poverty, inequality, and unemployment.

Even though 87% of the population has access to electricity connections, most households cannot afford to use sufficient electricity to meet their basic energy needs, and almost half of all households are considered energy poor. The challenge is not just about access to electricity but also about affordability. Many of the policies currently in place to alleviate energy poverty and poverty have not yielded the results hoped for. This is understood within the framework of an energy-intensive political economy that has been built around coal and coal fired electricity production.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLiving with Energy Poverty
Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives from the Global North and South
EditorsPaola Velasco Herrejon, Breffni Lennon, Niall P Dunphy
PublisherRoutledge - Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781003408536
ISBN (Print)9781032528199
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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