Millions of rands allocated for electrification in Free State

10th February 2012

About R39.6-million will be spent by the Department on Energy (DoE) on elec- tricity connections in the Maluti-a-Phofung (formerly QwaQwa) municipality, in the Free State, during the 2011/12 financial year, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said last month.

Speaking at the sod turning for an integrated energy centre (IEC) for the municipality, she revealed that at least 2 450 new electricity connections have been scheduled for the munici- pality this year. The department allocated R19.6-million for this purpose, while a further R20-million was allocated as part of the regazetting of 2011/12 funds.

This municipality will also receive a further allocation of R20-million a year over two years for electrification projects. However, the additional funds under the regazetting process and the R40-million allocation over two years will only be made available if the current projects are completed successfully.

While 350 000 electricity connections were made in the Free State between 1994 and September last year, the backlog in the province still stands at about 200 000 households, of which 70 000 are informal and 130 000 formal households. This means that 13% of households in the province have not been electrified.

This also represents 6% of the national backlog.

The DoE made 2 670 electricity connections in Maluti-a-Phofung at a cost of R15.5-million in 2009/10 and 1 400 connections at a cost of R10-million in 2010/11.
The nearby Phumelela municipality spent R270 000 on 75 connections in 2009/10, while a further R2.64-million is to be spent on 330 connections in 2011/12.

The department has also allocated R810 000 to be spent on electrification projects in the Mantsopa municipality, also in the Free State, this year.

Further, Peters added that power utility Eskom was also undertaking the electrification of households in the Maluti-a-Phofung, Setsoto and Dihlabeng municipalities this year, at a budgeted cost of R82 000, R2.09-million and R7.46-million respectively.

Meanwhile, an IEC is expected to help alle- viate the energy challenges in the province.

“IECs are one-stop energy shops owned and operated by the community cooperative and organised as a community project. They provide energy solutions, access to afford- able, safe and sustainable energy services and information on how to handle and use energy sources like paraffin and gas for the community.

“IECs also promote the development of small, medium-sized and microenterprises through partnerships with key stakeholders like the National Development Agency and the Department of Trade and Industry,” the Minister explained.

The DoE, along with petro- chemicals group Sasol and the Free State local municipalities, started planning for the province’s IEC in 2008 but the implementation was delayed, owing to an environmental- impact assessment study and land issues.

Partnerships between the DoE and oil companies have already resulted in seven IECs being built across the country. These are located in the Eastern Cape, the Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the North West.