Hungry for Electricity is a new book by Tracy Ledger and Mahlatse Rampedi arguing for universal access to electricity in South Africa.
We think we are free today but we are not. It is as though they removed a rock on top of black people and replaced it with steel – Philip, Eyadini
Despite a clear policy commitment to universal access to electricity, millions of South African households are unable to access even the minimum amount of electricity that they require to improve their lives and take advantage of economic opportunities. The original ‘electricity for all’ promise has been replaced with ‘if you are poor, you cannot have electricity’.
This groundbreaking book depicts the unforgiving reality faced by a vast number of South Africans. It presents a new model for conceptualising universal access to electricity and a clear policy roadmap for how to achieve that goal.
Ledger and Rampedi compellingly argue that universal access to electricity may be the single most important tool for reducing poverty and inequality in South Africa: It can increase quality of life, create new employment opportunities, support small enterprises and reduce food insecurity.
Hungry for Electricity traces the state’s focus on physical infrastructure without consideration of the other factors that limit the ability of poor households to use electricity to improve their lives. But electrification does not guarantee meaningful or equitable development benefits. The only kind of access to electricity that translates into meaningful development benefits is universal enabling access.