Understanding the Government’s Free Basic Electricity Program for Indigent Households

Understanding the Government’s Free Basic Electricity Program for Indigent Households

…By Judah Olanisebee for TDPel Media.

Government’s Free Basic Municipal Services: Understanding the Allocation of Electricity to Indigent Households


The government provides essential municipal services to impoverished households, offering free electricity and water.

Municipalities play a crucial role in facilitating the provision of these services and provide a monthly allowance to indigent households, with the aim of meeting their basic needs.

However, concerns have been raised about the adequacy of this allocation in catering to the requirements of impoverished households.

Free Basic Electricity (FBE) for Indigent Households:

Under the FBE program, eligible indigent households are guaranteed a monthly allocation of 50 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity.

This allocation is specifically designed to fulfill basic needs such as lighting, water heating using a kettle, basic ironing, and access to a small television and radio.


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Users with pre-paid electricity meters can easily monitor when their free electricity allocation is exhausted and will have to purchase additional electricity at their own expense.

On the other hand, users with conventional or credit meters may not have a clear indication of when they have utilized their units and will be billed for any additional usage at the end of each month.

Qualification and Distribution of FBE:

Low-income households consuming less than 350-450 kWh of electricity per month qualify for Free Basic Electricity.

The free electricity allocation is provided on the first day of every month, with some municipalities offering 50 kWh and others providing 100 kWh.

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Individuals from qualifying households who do not receive FBE are encouraged to register at their local municipality to determine their eligibility and apply for the program.

It’s important to note that only households earning less than a certain monthly income threshold (such as R3500) are eligible for FBE.

Estimated Power Usage with 50 kWh Allocation:


Eskom, the power utility, has provided an estimate of the appliances that can be powered with a monthly allocation of 50 kWh.

This includes energy-saving light bulbs for evening and morning lighting, a television, an iron, a hotplate, a kettle, a cellphone charger, and a fridge.

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The estimation takes into account the wattage, number of appliances, and hours of usage per month, resulting in a total consumption of 1.85 kWh.


While the government’s provision of free basic municipal services, including electricity, is aimed at assisting indigent households, concerns remain about the adequacy of the allocated amounts.

The FBE program strives to meet essential needs; however, users must carefully manage their consumption to avoid additional expenses.

Ongoing discussions and evaluations are necessary to ensure that the allocation adequately supports impoverished households’ energy requirements.

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