17 July 2007 – Nelson Mandela Bay Electricity department, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, is starting to make headway in installing electricity into homes in informal settlements in the area.

At a site visit this week, councillors were invited to see the progress being made by the electricity department, and discuss some of the challenges being faced.

Elwyn Williams of the electricity department noted that “Illegal connections or wires from developed areas to illegal or privately owned sites, vandalism of structures not immediately occupied and incomplete housing projects are some of the challenges they are faced with.”

The visit began at the Silvertown information settlement and ended at a new housing project in St Albans.

One of the greatest challenges facing the department was a lack of funding from the department of minerals and energy, due to delays on housing projects.

“Services such as water, sewerage and electricity cannot be installed in newly developed or shack areas until a full environment impact assessment has been done and a record of decision has been approved” said Lourens Schoeman, spokesman for the municipality.

83 300 homes in informal and low-cost housing areas have been electrified between 1993 and the end of June 2007 at a total cost of R223-million ($31 million).