Power, policy and pricing: an analysis of free basic electricity in Khayelitsha.

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study focuses on the economic rationale for increased electrification in Khayelitsha and for enhanced Free Basic Electricity (FBE) policies. Air quality readings in Khayelitsha have shown high readings of pollution and a particularly high incidence of coarse particulate matter (PM10). These are on average 25 per cent higher than Goodwood and 70 per cent higher than in central Cape Town. PM10s are particularly harmful pollutants and impose an increasing marginal external cost; the health implications of exposure varying directly with exposure levels. Open fires, traditional and paraffin stoves, and flame based lighting are major contributors to respiratory disease and altered lung function. Low birth-weight, nutritional deficiency, tuberculosis, cardiovascular disease and cataracts have also been associated with the prevalence of PM10. It was found in this dissertation that PM10 readings are significantly higher than allowed by national standards and that a 100 per cent increase in Free Basic Electricity, from 50kWh per month to 100kWh, would be appreciably beneficial to health outcomes. Dose-response functions were used to evaluate the effect of a 10 per cubic metre μɡ//m³ decrease in PM10 for lung diseases, Lower Respiratory Illness in children, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), cardiovascular and respiratory mortality and other related symptoms. It was seen that all of these adverse health episodes would decrease to varying extents, for example between 13 and 14 lives could be saved from COPD, cardiovascular mortality could decrease by around 468 deaths and respiratory deaths could decrease by about 2 491. Added to this, between 721 665 and 1 237 140 annual sick days would be saved annually and ambient pollution readings would drop, although the extent to which this would happen is unknown.

Includes bibliographical references.