June is Youth Month in South Africa and this year the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) is reflecting on the importance for access to energy for all South Africans. SANEDI Interim CEO, Lethabo Manamela writes on the challenges the youth of today face in accessing electricity and its ripple effects.
As we honour the contribution of the youth in the struggle for the liberation of our country, we should reflect on progress made thus far in transforming our society, while also examining our challenges. South Africa is fortunate to have a youthful nation. However, our youth unemployment statistics are a major cause for concern.
This unemployment is exacerbated by the economic detriment caused by a constrained energy supply, coupled to the devastating COVID-19 situation. Our energy landscape remains a great challenge in South Africa. Not only does loadshedding impact the economy, leading to fewer job opportunities – it also hinders entrepreneurial efforts. Our youth who are of the mind to create their own employment opportunities are hindered when the power cuts, leave them with decreased connectivity and halted operations.
Access to energy is a basic human right, but it is not enjoyed by all our people. We all need to take greater consideration of our energy use – take measures to become more energy efficient – so that there is sufficient supply to meet others’ demand.
This Youth Month, I urge you to play your part in using electricity more efficiently. This is especially important as we move into the thick of winter, where power demand generally increases as people warm their homes. Be conscientious of how you use power, and let’s work together to help minimise the risk of loadshedding. At the same time, you can save money on your electricity bill.
Energy efficiency practices have far-reaching financial benefits for the underprivileged and unemployed as these provide daily cost savings. Since 2003, the government has made Free Basic Electricity (FBE) services available to the country’s poorest households. This means that each household receives approximately 50kWh per month, providing enough power for basic lighting and a small TV and radio.
Promoting the more efficient use of energy will help stretch the allocated FBE services and translate into financial savings of approximately 30% of the normal monthly electricity bill. Those households that are reliant on monthly grants and FBE will immediately start benefiting from cost savings associated with the implementation of energy efficiency interventions.
As winter temperatures in South Africa drop, SANEDI recommends that everyone checks their home and fixes poorly sealed windows and doors so that heated air does not escape. Also, look for energy efficient heating solutions and don’t leave heaters on all day/night. Lastly, consider gas heaters and layered clothing to keep warm.
If we all play our part, we can help ensure that all South Africans have access to the energy they need thereby enabling our youth to continue playing an integral role in shaping the future of our country.