Hearings on Household Energy

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Mineral Resources and Energy

01 August 2002
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

01 August 2002


: Mr M Goniwe

Documents handed out:
Nuon RAPS Presentation Document
Electrification for Development

Presentations were made by the (1) Department of Minerals and Energy Affairs, (2) Nuon RAPS, (3) UCT Electrical Engineering Department and (4) Energy and Development Research Centre. The key issues raised were (1) the Department's shift of focus from the number of connections to the socio-economic development of the rural communities, (2) the safety of paraffin and other traditional fuels and (3)the limitations of solar power.

Integrated National Energisation Programme
Ms N Magubane stated that the Department of Minerals and Energy Affairs (DME) had in terms of the RDP aimed to connect 2.5million people between 1994 and 1999. The industry had outperformed this target since they had managed to connect 2.7million by that date. The Department had assumed that the average household would consume 350 KWh per month. In reality people were using far less, since one's income determines one's consumption level. The Department has therefore found it difficult to recover the capital cost of the infrastructure. Thus there is a need to accelerate consumption. The same applies to schools in the rural areas where the lack income generating capacity results in non-payment.

It was therefore evident that the Department had to shift its focus. Between 1994 and 1999 the aim had been to establish as many electricity connections as possible. They now realised that it was not enough to grant people access to electricity. Instead the Department should focus on enabling people to pay for the electricity, ie the focus has shifted toward sustainability of these connections and therefore the socio-economic development of these communities. Thus the available funds would be spent differently, as one would now also have regard to the impact of the electricity on the lives of the people. The trade-off is that fewer people will be connected in future. For example, instead of spending R40 million on electrifying many households, it will be spent on electrifying one milling plant. Although there would be fewer connections more jobs would be created, enabling people to pay for electricity. This economic development would require co-ordination between the different Departments.

Local Government has integrated plans to stimulate economic development. They encourage the densification of rural settlements, as this makes it easier to bring them services. All services need to be integrated in order to impact on the people. People need to be able to maintain the infrastructure. Problems of theft and security should become the community's responsibility. The municipals' Integrated Development Plans (IDP's) would guide the Programme, which will only succeed where there is economic development to pay for it.

The new way of planning gives rise to many challenges. A National Advisory Committee advises the Minister. As work is harmonised with the IDP's these plans have to be realistic (which they often are not).

The DME has identified priorities for the future. There needs to be integration between the Plans of the DME and those of the other Departments. There should be a continued focus on backlogs. The DME should also concentrate on the rural areas (which are the priority areas identified as developmental nodes). The Department will aim to get as many connections as possible with the available funds.There should be harmonisation between the grid and non-grid electrification programmes, ie. where the consumer has no access to grid s/he would be able to use non-grid.

Renewable energy sources are very expensive (costing R3500,00 per consumer) especially if one takes into account the limited benefit they have for consumers. Its benefits relate to diversification and the environment. The Hluleka Nature Reserve Mini Grid is an example of renewable energy being used successfully. It is SA's first hybrid mini-grid and was implemented by Eskom- Shell Solar Home Systems (Pty)Ltd.

The Lucingweni Mini Grid is planned to provide electricity to 220 homes. It will require the co-ordination of the Departments of Water Affairs and Forestry, Agricultrure, Trade and Industries, Transport, Education and Communications to ensure its success. All the electrical infrastructure is situated underground, as this created more jobs than if it were placed above ground.

The DME's plans for 2002/3 include allocating funds to municipalities with licenses. Eskom allocates to those without licenses. R120 million will be available from German funding. This will be used for renewable energy and poverty alleviation. The DME has to ensure that they have enough capacity for service delivery.

Questions and Discussion
Mr D Dlali (ANC) referred to the fact that the Department of Education was experiencing problems with regard to co-ordination of their plans and priorities. He asked if the DME had given them time frames.

Ms Magubane replied that the DME had allocated funding for the electrification of 225 schools. The Department of Education then had to provide them with a list of that Department's priorities. The Department of Education had however only identified 185 schools, which means that the two Departments should try harder to co-ordinate their work.

Mr Dlali referred to the fact that the Local Government IDP's were often not implemetable as they were unrealistic. He asked how these would then be harmonised with the programme of the DME.

Ms Mgubane replied that the Departments were responsible for ensuring that the IDP's were workable. The DME would have to talk to municipalities about this issue.

Mr Dlali said that the solar systems were weak and that many schools were therefore using batteries.

Ms Magubane argued that the DME was merely providing people with access to modern energy. There were however trade- offs. The system was expensive and had limited benefits. However one should consider whether it is better to stay without electricity entirely or to at least have some access. When solar energy is brought into an area the DME also ensures that that area has access to other forms of energy, e.g. gas.

Ms E Ngaleka (ANC) asked how much the farmers contributed to the electrification of the farm workers' homes.

Ms Magubane stated that work is done with the Agricultural Union and the Department of Land Affairs. Government allocates a sum of money to subsidise farmers. A farmer can be subsidised for up to R2000,00 for putting in the infrastructrure. The DME works with the municipality in which the farm is located.

Ms Ngaleka referred to the rural bias of the programme and asked whether the Department has completed the 2002/3 projects in these areas.

Ms Magubane said that the rural areas have the greatest backlog. The backlog here is 30% while it is only 20% in the urban areas. The DME would concentrate on the rural areas that are most densely populated, e.g. villages. This is because it is easier to extend the grid in these areas.

Mr J Nash (ANC) stated that there is a township close to Hluleka. He asked why the reserve could not use a wind turbine big enough to service the homes as well.

Ms Magubane answered that this had been considered. The pump would at first just be used for the game reserve. The turbine would be put right on top and would be accompanied by some commercial activity, which would serve as security against vandalism.

Ms N Mtsweni (ANC) referred to the areas which had not been prioritised and asked if they could at least be given some sort of service ( e.g. street lighting) even if they were not given full access to electricity.

Ms Magubane said that this could be considered. It is however the policy of the DME to attempt to provide maximum benefit to persons whom they access.

Mr M Baloyi (ANC) referred to the new approach which represented a shift away from the emphasis on the number of connections made. He asked what impact the old approach had had on people's lives.

Ms Magubane responded that people's lives had changed socially but not economically. This is evident in the fact that instead of consuming the anticipated 350 kWh they were only able to consume 100 kWh.

The Chair disapproved of the fact that the sparsely populated nature of rural settlements was being used as an excuse for their lack of electricity.

The Chair complained that the electricity that Eskom and the municipality provide to the townships is of a poor quality, e.g. in stormy weather the townships often experience blackouts, while the electricity supply in town remains unaffected. He asked how this could be rectified.

Ms Magubane replied that with the restructuring of the industry fewer technical people were being produced. It is important therefore to invest in training at technikons and to ensure that persons trained stay in the industry. Well-trained technical people would assist in raising the quality of service.

The Chair referred to the 2.7 million connections made by the end of 1999. He asked how many of these were subsequently disconnected.

Ms Magubane explained that because of prepaid metering persons who have no money simply do not use electricity. It is difficult to say how many disconnections there were. It is however clear that economic activity is important to ensure that people are able to pay.

The Chair stated that work with the Department of Education was prioritised when the DME wished to make interventions in education. He asked why Trade and Industry was not prioritised.

Ms Magubane stated that the Departments of Health and Education were merely examples used in the presentation. The DME has been working with all departments that have an interest in energy affairs.

Petroleum and Gas: Pricing and Safety Issues
Mr T Burger, the Director of Petroleum and Gas Regulation of the DME stated that Illuminating Paraffin (IP) pricing has been quasi-controlled until the wholesale level. Due to intervention by the Minister the price of IP is zero-rated for VAT. It is therefore a unique petrol product, since it has no government levy. The price had been controlled until the early 1980's after which the price control was removed. However in practice the price has been calculated on the same basis as had been imposed in terms of the old price control legislation. Thus the retail price is still calculated by adding 33,3% to the wholesale price.

An Advisory Committee has been established to advise on systems and mechanisms to determine a single, monthly maximum retail price for IP. The Committee's work has been hampered by the provisions of the Competitions Act. The Committee needs detailed price data of the individual companies, which they are not able to obtain in terms of the Act. They may however be able to obtain it from participants in the industry.

Retailers have to be included in the work of the Committee, e.g. the petrol retailers. There are approximately 4800 service stations in SA. The DME has established very good communication links with them via their representative bodies. However this is not the case with IP retailers. The DME does not know how many IP retailers there are. The supply chain includes depots, routers and retailers who all distribute for their own account on behalf of the refineries. The problem is that once the product leaves the depot and is out there in the market it is not easy to monitor.

The wholesale price is known as it is published every month. Different retailers add their own margin. The DME has commissioned a study to determine what happens in the market place. It was found that prices were competitive and that there was not really exploitation of the consumer. The reason is that over time the retailers have stuck to the margin of 33,3 %. The DME could therefore either (1) prescribe a retail price, (2) prescribe a maximum price, which could allow for a discount or (3) recommend a retail price.

One has to consider the use of national, regional or zonal prices. The advantage of a national price is that it is easy to police. If one were to implement zonal pricing one would have to make provision for transport costs (which is more important in the case of IP than petrol). One could use the system whereby the consumer at the coast would pay a higher price to subsidise the inland transport. If it were based on provincial boundaries the effect of the subsidy would be softened. Prices would vary according to province. On the issue of policing the zonal system is problematic since it would be difficult to administer 46 zones.

Prices are expressed as cents per litre. The difficulty is that IP is not necessarily sold in litre quantities. Often it is sold in lesser quantities (depending on the size of the container). The price is therefore difficult to police.

The Department is therefore seeking a pricing model which is practical and provides for forms of verification.

The main challenges are the ingestion and fire hazards presented by paraffin in households. The DME works with the Paraffin Safety Association (PASASA) on these issues. Recommendations include the use of safety caps and the education of households on safety issues. Appliances (both wick and pressurised) should be approved by the South African Bureau of Standards. The specifications for these appliances will be published within a month or two. These specifications include the size of the surface area of the stove in order to ensure its stability. Imported appliances should be checked to ensure that they adhere to safety standards.

IP quality should also be improved, especially where it is used in a dwelling. Combustion products lead to respiratory diseases and it is therefore important that the emission of hydro carbon should be limited.The DME recommended that a 0,15 cents levy should be introduced for activities promoting healthy and safe use of paraffin.This has yet to be approved by the Minister of Finance.

Integrated Energy Centres (IEC's) have been established and represent an extension in the Department's role in the use of IP.

The price had been unregulated until December 2001. The price is based on the price of petrol (particularly 93 octane and diesel). A discount of R10,00 per litre applied to Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG).The R10,00 was the price of converting LPG to petrol. If such conversion was not made the R10,00 represented a saving, which was given as a discount. The discount has subsequently been amended, as the price of the conversion has increased.Thus the ex refinery price has been reduced. An LPG Advisory Committee is currently looking at a maximum retail price for LPG. The DME has commissioned a study on the affordability of LPG to low-income households. The Department is expecting the results of the study to be made available soon.

There is also a problem as to the availability of data because of the Competitions Act. Members of the industry (manufacturing and marketing) do not wish to make pricing data available.

There is a complex supply chain for LPG. It includes the refinery, bulk distributers, cylinder distributors as well as routers and retailers. There are approximately 45 000 retail outlets.This represents a potential difficulty from a regulatory point of view.

The DME works closely with the LPG Association (which represents industry) and the SA Bureau of Standards on this issue. LPG is a safe energy source. Education is therefore important to combat the perception that it is unsafe. In this regard the work of the IEC's are particularly important. LPG is a mature, environmentally benign and safe product.

Energy issues in the Eastern Cape
Mr B Plaatjies, the Chief Energy Officer of the Eastern Cape Region explained that the focus in the Eastern Cape was on the rural areas. Four of the six district municipalities had been identified as nodal points. The DME is focussing on these four areas. The problems in these areas had generally included poor access and the fact that there had been no income-generating projects enabling people to afford to buy appliances and afford electricity.

Many households still rely on traditional biomass fuels, e.g. firewood, cow dung and paraffin. LPG is not widely used in rural areas and where it is used it is usually only by the few who can afford it, e.g. teachers, nurses etc. The price of LPG in this area is between R4,90 and R5,20 per litre.

People in this region have had bad experiences with solar power. The problem is that they had been looking for an energy source that would allow them to cook. This is not possible with solar power. There is a problem with regard to the capacity of the systems. They are very expensive, but are unable to meet all the energy needs of the people. They however have to pay between R55,00 and R58,00 per month for the service.

Lack of access to reliable energy sources has impacted heavily on economic activity in the region. The Department of Social Development has funded a number of projects in the area, e.g. baking, sewing and poultry. These projects utilise traditional fuels. In villages like Mzongwane and Seqhobong these bakeries supply the entire village. The use of paraffin is leading to the death of certain projects.

People often equate energy with electricity. One should look at energy in its entirety. Thus a development cadre of 56 persons is being trained to provide information at district and municipal levels regarding the safety and efficient use of certain fuels, e.g. paraffin.

This programme is funded by petrol companies, especially Sasol. The white paper dealing with energy issues aims to promote access to reliable energy sources. In practice the problems included the fact that people were not getting the benefit of the zero rating on paraffin. In addition people lacked the education to use energy efficiently. They had to be given information on how to mix renewable and other energy sources, e.g. paraffin and gas. People should not be trapped by the idea that electricity is the only energy source.

The DME encourages communities to form co-operatives and legally register the Board of Directors of the Centres. The aim of these IEC's is to bring energy closer to the people. Special projects, which focus on economic development are directed by the Director General's office.

Questions and Discussion
Ms C Nonceba (ANC) stated that paraffin and gas are too expensive and that R60,00 worth of gas would last a household two weeks only.

Ms Nonceba asked how the Department could market solar houses.

Ms Magubane said that the DME is subsidising the R58,00 and a household would then only have to pay R10,00.The government will require the service providers of non grid technology to invest in the communities which they serve.

Ms Ngaleka suggested that solar energy should be strengthened in order to meet the community's needs.

Ms Magubane explained that technology is not advanced enough for solar energy to meet the thermal needs of the people.

Mr Nash asked who is on the IP Advisory Committee. He asked if it just consisted of retailers or if members of the communities were also allowed. He suggested that the Portfolio Committee should be represented.

Mr Burger stated that the Department chairs the Committee. Stakeholders include oil companies and communities. Membership is not exclusive.

Mr Nash suggested that where the price of paraffin is known it would be easier to police.

Mr Mohamed referred to the R10,00 discount on LPG. He asked for more detail on the calculation of the discount.

The R10,00 represented the saving if one does not turn the LPG to petrol.Thus the catalyst needed to turn LPG to petrol costs R10,00. The discount is calculated as R10,00 per ton. This cost has been recalculated and adjusted recently.

Mr Dlali asked for more information on the safety levy.

Mr Burger referred to the 0,15 cents per litre which will be levied on petrol and diesel. This represents less than 10 cents for the average car. This is an insignificant price increase and the benefit far outweighs the cost.

The Chair referred to the 'training the trainers' programme. He asked what the selection criteria are for trainees and how many trainers would be needed to turn the situation around.

Mr Plaatjies replied that the programme was advertised in March and applications were invited. Applicants needed to have the relevant experience. In April 56 trainees were selected. Some applied on an individual basis while others applied as representatives of consulting companies.

The Chair stated that there was a relationship between the use of paraffin and poverty. He argued that something better has to be found. He had a problem with the fact that the DME is aiming to reduce the price, as this would encourage its use. One hundred and forty-five thousand people drink paraffin every year of whom 55 000 become ill and 4000 die annually. In addition paraffin causes 46 000 fires annually and 50 000 burn injuries. Reducing the price could increase this problem. Another problem is the lack of ventilation in squatter camps where primus stoves often explode. Fires and injuries cost the state approximately R3 billion per year. One needs to balance the need for cheap energy with these statistics.

Mr Burger agreed that paraffin was very unsafe, but explained that the DME worked according to the maturity curve. At the bottom of the curve is the animal waste and wood. Paraffin is on the next level followed by LPG. Electricity is found at the top of the curve and the aim is to provide everyone with electricity. The DME is in fact promoting LPG, as it is a much safer option than paraffin and is at a higher level of maturity. One has to aim to move up the maturity curve.

The South African Non-Grid Concession Process Mr D Banks (the Nuon RAPS representative) described the venture as a Public Private Partnership for household energy delivery. He conceded that solar power is not as good as grid and emphasised that they were not trying to compete with grid. While non-grid focuses on solar power one cannot ignore the thermal needs of the people.Thus they have emphasised the complementary thermal energy services.

The focus is on the sustainability of the project. This is important for the company owing to their substantial investments. More importantly however it impacts on the lives of rural communities.The person installing the solar system will then also put the lights in the different rooms and even connect the radio for the household. They will wire up to eight rooms per household as part of their service.

The early process has been complicated and it has been difficult to get a proper structure in place to regulate the private companies involved. Regulations were drafted in order to set tariffs. A basic tariff provided the household with access to four lights for four hours per night, radio as well as black and white television. Persons qualifying for the poverty tariff received these services for R10,00 per month. Much of the equipment is imported, as it is not yet available in SA.

Shell-Eskom started with non-grid installations in late 1988. It started by installing 6000 systems, but then had to remove many of them because of the introduction of grid electrification and non payment.

In late 2001 an interim agreement was signed by members of the Electricity Distribution Industry. The following were parties to the agreement: Eskom, the National Electricity Regulator and Consortia. Between February and July 2002 the following companies signed the interim contract: Solar Vision, Nuon RAPS, Shell-Eskom, Renewable Energy Africa and EDF/Total.

Nuon RAPS is funded by investments by Nuon and RAPS, as well as foreign investments. It has received no funding from the SA government. They have managed to establish three energy stores and have installed 290 household systems. They do not supply energy within one kilometer of the grid. Eskom wants them to increase this area to two kilometers. Customers in this area would not be able to access Nuon RAPS services even if they really wanted it.

They have introduced the poverty tariff in order to deliver the service adequately. Two of their largest problems have been theft of equipment and fraud. The police and the justice system have been disappointing in this regard. The criticisms of the solar systems are valid since they are unable to meet the thermal needs of the people. However they are able to reach the most remote areas, which are not covered by grid. Solar power should therefore not be portrayed in such a negative light, but should be seen as a system which is introducing some energy to areas where none existed.

Questions and Discussion
Mr Dlali disapproved of the fact that payment of R58,00 for solar homes is charged even where the system is not used for any given month.

Mr Banks explained that the normal four-light system is a capital asset.Thus one could compare the installation of such system to purchasing a car on hire-purchase, ie. even if the customer does not use the asset for a particular month s/he still has to pay the monthly installment. Some companies would still charge the person the full amount for the month the system was not in use. RAPS however charges a different rate if the customer is in arrears. The first month is charged at a discounted rate, after which the customer will revert to paying the R58,00. If the customer remains in arrears for longer than three months the system is then removed.

Mr Nash asked what the system costs per unit.

Mr Banks replied that price of the infrastructure can vary from between R3500 and R4500. The battery costs approximately R350 and the panel costs less than R2000,00.

Ms Nonceba asked what the gender component of the staff was.

Mr Banks said that there were two women and twenty one men. They had chosen people with Mathematics and Science skills and it had been disappointing that very few qualilfied women had applied. Another problem is that the job entails dropping off teams or individuals in isolated areas. It is not advisable to leave a woman in such area for safety reasons. One could however drop off a group of women to do the job but this would entail increased costs.

A member asked if RAPS assists SMME development.

Mr Banks answered that the company does not support any established SMME's at this point. Once they start to subcontract this will change. The company is moving toward the use of containers. Thus four businesses could be run off one container. Also household solar systems are being used at spaza shops.

Mr Dlali asked who owns the utilities.

Mr Banks explained that the shareholding is composed of Nuon (a Dutch Company) and RAPS (a Pty Ltd company). There is no formal shareholding from the municipality. The energy stores of RAPS could be run as an independent business on a franchise basis. The staff who manage it could run it like a commercial business. It is however still too early for this to happen.

Electrification for Development
Mr T Gaunt (UCT Electrical Engineering Department) looked at why electrification was important to the people. Electrification would not necessarily lead to economic development. Electrification could only be used for poverty alleviation once there is capacity, ie income, skills and knowledge. Electrification does not meet the needs of the people until it is used in households. Only when this happens can one say that there has been a positive impact on their quality of life. Between 1990 and 2001 the number of connections increased from one million to eight million. Urban areas have been easier and cheaper to electrify owing to their high density.

In the evaluation of the National Electrification Programme it was found that one of the most significant constraints was the voltage drop. The construction however met the needs of the programme. Some communities objected to the supply being limited to 20 Amps (230V), but in practice this standard is appropriate for low consumption. One of the proposals emerging from the evaluation is that of a tariff subsidy, which would assist the poor. A Basic Electricity Support Tariff (BEST) is being researched. He gave a brief overview of the report (as outlined in the document). Among the findings were:-it is difficult to identify what constitutes a household,-35 to 60kWh per month fulfills basic requirements,-there was awareness of the inequity between 'haves' and 'have-nots' and-electricity should be subsidised but not free.

They recommended that:-poverty alleviation requires that people's needs for lighting, media and cooking should be met. -there should be a limit of 8 to 10 Amps per month.-there should be an alternative to solar power.-electrification should continue. -there should be a national price for electricity-electricity should not be free but heavily subsidised-50kWh should cost R5 (This is equivalent to 35kWh free).

An objective of BEST is to unlock the value of the investment in electrification infrastructure.

Questions and Discussion
Mr Dlali asked if the lack of service in certain areas could be attributed to use of concession companies (which are failing to provide the services).

Mr Gaunt replied that the inequity to which he had referred earlier could be addressed by subsidised basic services. This applied in areas that had not been reached at all and not to areas operated by concession companies. His recommendations were that access should be ensured by subsidising 8kWh.

Mr Dlali asked if the presentation was suggesting that their recommendations should be used as an alternative to the use of solar power. He asked what this proposed alternative would entail.

Mr Gaunt argued that their recommendation is completely different to solar and cannot be compared. Solar is unable to provide heating and cooling services.

Mr Baloyi referred to the maximum limit of energy to which these consumers would have access. He asked what would happen if a customer needed more than the prescribed limit.

Mr Gaunt explained that if one allowed all customers from different circumstances to consume the same amount of energy it would overload the network.

Mr Nash referred to the choice between national and local tariffs. He explained that Parliament had decided on a national tariff since the municipality tends to 'load the tariff to accommodate Cinderella services'.

Mr Gaunt answered that they had recommended a national tariff as well. If one tries to pool together different authorities one would charge the tariffs in those particular areas. However if one were then to introduce a support tariff much confusion would result.

The Chair asked what recommedations had emerged on the way debt should be dealt with.

Mr Gaunt replied that people should be accessed by virtue of the subsidy. In addition, instead of being faced with a huge bill at the end of the month it would be better to limit consumption. Thus if a household was entitled to a poverty tariff they would be allowed limited use of electricity. The issue of the bad debt could be dealt with separately.

The Challenge of Delivering Large Scale RET's to rural Households Ms N Mohlakoana (Energy and Development Research Centre) stated that the study took place in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape, KZN and the Limpopo Provinces between May 2001 and July 2002. She read the presentatation document and pointed out the following:-Government has provided these areas with off-grid electricity. Private concession companies install and maintain the solar systems in certain rural areas.-Grid electricity is associated with a better life and higher standard of living. When government said that they would provide people with electricity it was assumed that this would be grid electricity.-The main challenge with providing people with off-grid is the lack of knowledge of such technologies. People do not understand why those with access to grid obtain more services for a lesser price. Also, many who apply for solar systems expect to be able to cook and also use refrigerators and colour televisions once the systems have been installed.-Because of the limitations of solar power people have to use traditional fuels to meet their thermal needs. These pose health, security and safety risks. -Reports indicate that government provides off-grid to the rural areas because extending grid to these areas would be too expensive. Failure to provide grid electricity does nothing to alleviate the burden of the poor and to contribute to sustainable development. Service providers and people with regular incomes, e.g. civil servants are the ones who benefit from off-grid.-Problems existed in areas where local communities were used as service providers. Firstly the majority of service providers are men. Women were seen to be incompetent to deal with technical matters. Secondly in one area technicians and inspectors did not have transport to deal with customers' problems timeously. The service providers should also focus on providing other renewable technologies that will address the thermal needs of the people. Off-grid concessionaires should provide an integrated energy service to rural communities.-Energy projects should be integrated with other development programmes in the rural areas. There are however challenges, which could be overcome if work is done with the other relevant departments. Among the challenges are: (1) poor infrastructure (2) lack of telephones (3) lack of access to clean drinking water.

Questions and Discussion
Ms Ngaleka asked why the research only took place in certain provinces. Further research should be conducted in the rest of the country.

Ms Mohlakoana replied that the research had been limited to three provinces due to the lack of funding.

Ms J Muller (Energy and Development Research Centre) remarked that there were different levels of quality of service by different service providers. It is therefore important that government should get involved to set standards. She also suggested that solar cookers could be used in the poultry and baking projects. The concessionaries could get involved here. It is important that people should be informed about the limitations of solar power.

Ms Mtsweni pointed out that solar power requires the sun to operate. She therefore asked what happens in winter.

Mr Douglas replied that the system works 90% of the time. Thus if it is cloudy for three consecutive days the energy will turn off or be reduced.


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