City of Cape Town pursues Green Energy solutions to combat energy poverty in informal settlements

iShack Solar Panels keeping the lights on in Cape Town’s informal settlements. Picture: City of Cape Town / iShack

iShack Solar Panels keeping the lights on in Cape Town’s informal settlements. Picture: City of Cape Town / iShack

Published Feb 12, 2024


In a proactive move to alleviate urban energy poverty and enhance community well-being, the City of Cape Town has recently launched the innovative Urban Energy Poverty Programme which focuses on informal settlements where grid-connected electrification is not feasible.

The initiative seeks to foster access to safe, sustainable and affordable energy sources.

According to a press release, although significant progress has been made in electrifying older informal settlements within city-supplied areas, challenges still persist in newer settlements located on unsuitable terrain.

Access to household power and public lighting remains a pressing concern, exacerbated by the risk of devastating fires associated with open flames.

City Mayoral Committee Member, Councillor Beverley van Reenen, engaged in collaborative efforts with active community partners and experts in the alternative energy sector. Engaging with organisations such as iShack, Zonke Energy, and the University of Exeter, the city explores innovative solutions to empower communities and enhance energy access.

The city's investigation into alternative energy solutions encompasses a wide array of initiatives, including indoor solar lights, renewable energy public lighting, and smart cookers. Emphasising affordability, safety, and sustainability, these solutions aim to uplift residents while mitigating energy poverty challenges.

Through community surveys and engagement, the City of Cape Town seeks to understand community perceptions and identify hurdles and opportunities in implementing alternative energy solutions. This grassroots-driven approach ensures that initiatives are tailored to meet the unique needs of informal settlements.

Organizations like iShack and Zonke Energy highlight the significance of market-making policies and affordability in driving widespread adoption of alternative energy services. The University of Exeter underscores the importance of community-centered projects in enhancing well-being and fostering a sense of ownership.

The City of Cape Town aims to pilot alternative public lighting options, deploy solar indoor lights, and promote smart cookers and wonderbags in informal settlements. Seeking partnerships, funding, and donations, the city invites collaboration to advance its energy poverty alleviation agenda.

Education and community awareness emerge as pivotal components in promoting renewable energy adoption and safe energy practices. The city encourages organizations to support awareness-raising efforts and provide education on various energy sources to empower communities and mitigate energy-related risks.

As the City of Cape Town embarks on its journey towards renewable energy transformation, it underscores the importance of collaboration, innovation, and community empowerment in building a sustainable and inclusive urban future.

IOL Energy