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Escalating Electricity Prices Threaten South African Economy

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

South Africa's electricity supply giant, Eskom, has reportedly inflated the cost of power by a whopping 446% since the onset of load-shedding in 2008. The escalating rates have stoked the fire of South African inflation and added a significant burden to the cost of doing business.



The information comes from South African Reserve Bank economists, Zaakirah Ismail and Christopher Wood, in a study where they explored the implications of administered price increases on South Africa's inflation. With Eskom's cost subtended pricing policy, the consumer bears the brunt of mismanagement and crisis expenditure that has plagued the power supplier for years.


South African households have seen a 60% rise in electrical costs since 2017, with an 18.7% further hike announced for the fiscal year 2023/24. However, despite the massive tariff increments, Eskom's spiralling financing requirements remain inadequately covered.



South African citizens continue to grapple with the harsh reality of inflating costs and plummeting reliability in the energy sector. Between 2007 and 2017, the average Eskom tariff bolstered by 333% and surged to 450% by 2022. As the cost of electricity influences most goods and services, this surge has raised the cost base of South Africa's entire economy.


The economists cautioned against knee-jerk cost-cutting reactions, which could compromise Eskom's capacity for improvement. They insist on better fund management and broader reforms in the electricity market. The crux of the problem, according to economists Ismail and Wood, lies within the execution of strategic reforms, a labyrinthine task that requires patience and careful planning.


The paradoxical dilemma is represented by Eskom's persistent pleas for above-inflation tariff increments amid their ongoing financial and performance slump. To navigate through this gridlock, comprehensive modifications need to be implemented in the electricity market despite resistance from within.


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