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Electricity access for low-income households: good policy intentions, bad trade-offs and unintended consequences.

The Public Affairs Research Institute initial modelling of the linkages between energy and household poverty indicates that whether or not households actually have access to sufficient clean and safe energy that they can afford is determined in large part by the structure and operating model of the energy distribution system.

Energy generation models impact the national level of carbon emissions, as well as the baseline cost of energy. But it is the distribution model in South Africa that has the most significant impact on whether or not households can actually access clean and safe energy within household income constraints.

When they are unable to do so, they either turn to dirty (i.e. polluting) and/or unsafe sources or make do without. Both of these decisions negatively affect a household’s standard of living and quality of life. Since it is the poorest households that are disproportionately affected, the result is to worsen inequality.

Read the Public Affairs Research Institute report: Broken Promises: Electricity access for low-income households – good policy intentions, bad trade-offs and unintended consequences