Out of the Dark: Innovative Strategies for Surviving Load Shedding in South Africa

Load shedding has become a daily reality for many households in South Africa, especially those in the middle-class bracket who earn over R10,000 per month. According to a survey conducted by BrandMapp, almost two-thirds of middle-class households spend less than R2,000 a month on electricity. However, when it comes to mitigation costs for load shedding, most households spend up to R5,000, indicating that households are turning to quick-fix solutions instead of a long-term solution.

The survey showed that for the average taxpayer in South Africa, there are no significant or long-term mitigation solutions in place, and candles and batteries are far more prominent than inverters or solar. The majority of lower-income households cannot spend more than R5,000 on a solution, unlike 20% of wealthy households who have spent more than R30,000 to address the problem.

Solar power is proving to be a popular solution among all households in the middle market, with nearly 80% of all respondents determined to spend money on fighting blackouts, and roughly half willing to spend more than R15,000 doing so. Respondents to the survey believe that solar is the clear solution to move away from Eskom.

However, the numbers they are willing to spend put the effectiveness of the recently-announced tax rebate for solar into question. Starting from March 2023, individuals who install rooftop solar panels can receive a rebate of 25% of the panel’s cost, up to a maximum of R15,000. However, most households cannot afford to reach even the effective cap, as the cheapest solar solutions typically start at R90,000, while the rebate is only effective up to R60,000 due to the R15,000 cap.

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As solar and other mitigation solutions remain unaffordable and out of reach for many, South African households are also in for higher electricity tariffs, starting in April. Energy regulator Nersa approved an 18.65% electricity price hike for 2023 and a 12.74% for 2024, which comes into effect at the start of the new financial year.

Load shedding continues to have a significant impact on South African households, particularly those in the middle-class bracket. While solar is viewed as a viable solution, its high cost puts it out of reach for many households, and the recent tax rebate is unlikely to make a significant impact. With higher electricity tariffs on the horizon, households are left with few options but to continue to seek out quick-fix solutions to deal with the impact of load shedding.