Eskom on Tuesday launched its communication campaign aimed at raising awareness of the longstanding Free Basic Electricity (FBE) programme. Photo: Siphiwe SIbeko/Reuters
Eskom on Tuesday launched its communication campaign aimed at raising awareness of the longstanding Free Basic Electricity (FBE) programme. Photo: Siphiwe SIbeko/Reuters

Eskom intensifies efforts to distribute free basic electricity to indigent households

By Sizwe Dlamini Time of article published May 12, 2020

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CAPE TOWN – State-owned power utilty Eskom has called on customers who qualified for free basic electricity but were not currently collecting it to approach their municipality and register to receive their free allocation.

In order to help alleviate the impact of the Covid-19 national lockdown on indigent households, Eskom on Tuesday launched its communication campaign aimed at raising awareness of the long-standing Free Basic Electricity (FBE) programme, which is targeted at giving limited free electricity to indigent households.

Eskom said in a statement that qualifying households, in terms of the government’s policy of providing support to the unemployed, low-earning, the destitute and the elderly, were encouraged to approach their municipalities to register as indigents in order to collect their allocated free basic electricity every month.

Eskom group executive for distribution Monde Bala said customers on municipalities’ indigent household registers had the right to collect a minimum 50 kiloWatt hours (kWh) of electricity for free every month, which could also be higher, depending on the municipality.

“Unfortunately a large number of indigent households don’t exercise their right, either because they are unaware of the free basic electricity, or because they have not registered with the municipality,” said Bala.

Once registered with the municipality, the customer’s details are loaded on the Eskom system where they get credited with free electricity tokens.

The power utility said as at end March 2020, Eskom had 900 000 registered indigent customers for free basic electricity but only 700 000 people are collecting their FBE tokens.

Eskom is working with municipalities to ensure that indigent households receive the free electricity allocated by the government. “The partnership with municipalities will go a long way to helping cushion the indigent households from the full impact of Covid-19 lockdown,” said Bala.

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