Electricity demand and grid reliability in South Africa


Not all households in South Africa are connected to the electricity grid, and for those that are connected, supply is intermittent due to frequent outages. These outages are primarily due to a combination of insufficient power generation and missing incentives for energy conservation. To ensure continued electricity, many household and firms are resorting to inefficient diesel generators. South Africans connected to the electricity supply face relatively low marginal prices for electricity. Whereas even low prices can provide strong incentives for energy conservation for poor households, it is quite common among relatively wealthy households to leave the lights or appliances on all day, even when not at home. This over-use of electricity exacerbates to the shortage-related outages.


In the proposed project, we aim to investigate different ways to reduce electricity use by those who currently have access to the grid and to provide energy to those who do not.

Expected Benefits

  • In South Africa: Electricity is scarce in South Africa. Using it efficiently means that the same amount of generation can reach more households and that the cost per additionally served household is reduced.
  • In Switzerland: Rendering the electricity system in South Africa more efficient will lead to a reduced use of diesel generators and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, this project would lead to a cooperation between Swiss and South African researchers.

Contact Information

B. Hintermann, b.hintermann@unibas.ch, phone: +41 61 207 33 39

Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Basel,

Electricity demand in South Africa
Electricity demand in South Africa

Partner Country: South Africa

Cost: CHF 4 Mio

Duration: 4 years