by Parliament

Integrated National Electrification Programme

Co-operation between departments and municipalities is expected to increase for the sake of service delivery

Municipalities have not met their targets of electrifying households
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The Portfolio Committee on Energy recently received three presentations from the Department of Energy (DoE), NT and FFC on the Integrated National Electrification Program (INEP), free basic electricity and free basic alternative energy.

In its presentation, the department reported that up until the last financial year, approximately 84% of households had been electrified and at the same time there had been about 65 000 non-grid connections. While the Committee commended Eskom, it pointed out that it was unfortunate that municipalities had not met their targets. Some of the challenges faced by municipalities are lack of “backbone” network infrastructure, escalating costs and limited funding.

During the meeting, the department announced a new household electrification strategy to be implemented. Some of the key elements of the strategy include resetting universal access date to 2025 and defining universal access to 97%.

Other highlights are increased efficiency in planning and ESKOM to lead in the development of an Electricity Master Plan. The plan also makes mention of treating grid and non-grid electrification roll out equally. Lastly, improvement of co-operation with municipalities, which is expected to improve delivery, particularly project management was expected.

Chairperson for the Committee, Mr Sisa Njikelana, said good work done by the department was appreciated and noted. The Committee expressed an interest to see better commitment to no-grid electrification, especially in rural areas.

The Committee highlighted the need for the household Energy Policy and Strategy which will define access for more comprehensiveness with specific reference to accessibility of household appliance. The Committee committed to monitoring progress closely and focus more on quarterly reports from the department.

The Committee welcomed the restructured formula for Local Government Equitable Share allocations since it now gives preference to rural municipalities. “The new local government equitable share formula for free basic energy presents a better prospect. We also appreciate the revised formula which includes a ring fenced subsidy for maintenance of infrastructure,” said Mr Njikelana. The Committee appeals to all parties including DoE, ESKOM, NT, DBSA and MISA to enhance the capacity of municipalities to improve access to free electricity and alternative energy.

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