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Journal of Energy in Southern Africa

versión On-line ISSN 2413-3051
versión impresa ISSN 1021-447X

J. energy South. Afr. vol.20 no.4 Cape Town  2009


The use of liquefied petroleum gas by South African low-income urban households: A case study



Nthabiseng MohlakoanaI; Wendy AnneckeII

IHuman Sciences Research Council
IIMonitoring and Evaluation, GVEP International




At the end of 2005 and in 2006, the Western Cape suffered extended blackouts. The cuts came as a shock and customers were loud in their criticism of Eskom and the City of Cape Town's failure to provide a reliable electricity supply. The utility Eskom's responses included the introduction of an aggressive Demand Side Management (DSM) programme with the goal of saving electricity and reducing the need to shed customers. In Khayelitsha, Cape Town, the DSM programme entailed an exchange and subsidy programme: households were encouraged to swop their two-plate electric stoves for Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) stoves. This intervention is the subject of this paper. The results of the study were analysed in terms of the socio-economic characteristics of the sample interviewed, multiple fuel use and transition trends in households in urban areas, changes in behaviour in electricity and LPG use, changing perceptions of LPG and the impact of the intervention. Previous studies in household energy use showed that people perceived LPG to be dangerous saying that it posed a greater danger to the household than paraffin since it might explode. Surprisingly, during the electricity power cuts in 2006, people in low-income communities, readily accepted LPG stoves in great numbers and a year later, up to 89% of the households surveyed, reported still using LPG for cooking.

Keywords: electricity blackouts, energy transitions, demand-side management, Eskom, Khayelitsha, liquefied petroleum gas, low-income households, paraffin, South Africa, energy subsidy and exchange programme



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Received 20 March 2009
Revised 5 November 2009

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