Access to electricity is critical to meeting human development needs of every South African. Electricity can help improve health, quality of life and educational opportunities for South Africa’s most vulnerable, while also helping to create jobs. However, the current electricity infrastructure is expensive and unhealthy for people and the life-supporting natural systems on which we all depend.
Energy access enables:
Better health & welfare
- Reduced air and water pollution reduces illness.
- Access to refrigeration for storing perishable foods ensures safe, nutritious, diverse food options.
- Access to hot water reduces illness.
Better for women & children
- Women manage household budgets, collect wood, buy fuel, and are responsible for cooking, cleaning, heating and childcare. These activities all have energy implications.
- Cooking indoors with wood and paraffin exposes people, particularly women and children, to respiratory diseases. Renewable energy could result in saving lives of 1.8 million children and 1.7 million adult women in sub-Saharan Africa between 2000 and 2030.
- Access to electricity can free women up from the labour-intensive and unhealthy nature of cooking and heating homes with these fuels, allowing them to use their time more productively elsewhere, and relieving them of the burden of chronic ill health, lost earning potential and stunted development.
Better access to information
- Electric lighting means more time for reading, studying and working every day.
- Access to electricity means people can use computers, television, radios and other technology in their homes, which allow them to access information and potentially become more productive participants in the economy.
Keeping nature healthy
- Access to fuel-efficient cooking technology, such as solar cookers or solar water heaters, provides alternatives to using wood or charcoal as an energy source in homes.
- Fuel-efficient technologies prevent deforestation, linked with wood harvesting and charcoal making, as well as the associated loss of plant and animal life.
- More efficient technologies also preserve the critical environmental ‘services’ provided by forests, such as buffering against flooding, erosion, and loss of fertile soil.