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18 May 2023

The third seminar in the Care Economy Series.

Electricity is crucial to ease the burden of care provision. In Africa, as documented in The Africa Care Economy Index, national time use surveys show that women and girls spend vastly more time on caring work than men and boys: ranging from almost three times more in South Africa, to six times more in Senegal, and 18 times more in Egypt. Women and girls spend a significant portion of this time searching for and carrying fuel to cook meals and sterilise water. The type of fuel accessed also relates back to time and care. Burning coal inside homes, for instance, is carcinogenic, putting those inhaling emissions at risk of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases.

Women and girls carry the major weight of caring for those affected given weak and unequal health systems in Africa. In Hungry for Electricity, Ledger and Rampedi argue that universal basic electricity is crucial to health, development, and eradicating poverty in South Africa. In this roundtable we will make the connections between care, electricity, women and girl’s time and productivity, and just transition. Not forgetting electricity struggles of the past, we will link these to current questions of energy politics, the fourth industrial revolution, and the potential to mobilise around universal basic electricity in South Africa today.

Mahlatse Rampedi presents, with discussants Trevor Ngwane and Hameda Deedat.