Can South African Power Utility's Duel With Non-Payers Be Solved?

Eskom has said it is losing at least nearly U.S.$173 million in revenue annually due to illegal power connections in Gauteng, Daily Maverick writes. Of that, it is haemorrhaging U.S.$275,000 a day in the township of Soweto alone. However, illegal connections make up only half of the power utility's debt problem in the area. In 2019, Eskom officials said that Soweto residents were U.S.$165 million in payment arrears, which included cumulative interest. The township's debt load has been a major thorn in the side of the power utility with about 200,000 residents being direct clients of Eskom. This means that the City of Johannesburg does not collect electricity tariffs from these residents - Eskom does. The depth of the debt lies in the fact that the government, through Eskom and the municipalities, failed to fully electrify previously excluded households after the first democratic elections in 1994. Industry experts say the government and Eskom should write off these debts, which they have done previously, and work on developing a better, more inclusive relationship with communities that could lead to a culture of payment.


Eskom's national control centre (file photo).

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