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Ramaphosa urges non-paying Soweto residents to pay electricity bills

Speaking at a conference at the University of Johannesburg about the strides made under democracy, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government has produced electricity to non-paying areas, including Soweto but this situation needs to change.

President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the 25 Years of Democracy Conference on 23 July 2019 at the University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – As South Africans continue to digest the impact of an additional R59 billion bailout for Eskom on taxpayers’ pockets, President Cyril Ramaphosa has reminisced about a time when South Africa attracted investors with the utility's globally recognised low electricity costs.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has introduced a Special Appropriation Bill for Eskom for the next two years.

Speaking at a conference at the University of Johannesburg about the strides made under democracy, he said the government has produced electricity to non-paying areas, including Soweto but this situation needs to change.

“We were the lowest unit cost electricity producer in the whole world.”

Ramaphosa has reflected on a time when Eskom had a competitive advantage of selling electricity at the cheapest price globally.

He said international companies were rushing to start-up businesses here.

But as Ramaphosa explained, this picture has changed drastically over the past few years, with the state-owned entity living from bailout to bailout.

“Our electricity has gone up by 800%. It has become one of the most expensive electricity by unit cost in the world, and therefore, we’ve lost that competitive advantage.”

The president has called on residents to pay up, with Soweto’s bill now standing at more than R18 billion.

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