Productive Uses of Basic Energy and Fuel Transitions in Urban South Africa

  •  David K. Kimemia    
  •  Harold J. Annegarn    


Perambulates in low income South African settlements brings to the fore the existence of conventional fuels-driven informal business activities. A deeper investigation reveals an energy sub-sector at various stages of transition and with inherent potential for employment creation and income generation. These productive uses of basic energy have economic importance to township residents in terms of meals provision, local air quality and wealth creation. In Alexandra Township, biomass and coal are used for commercial cooking in makeshift restaurants, mainly in the lower-income areas of the sprawling township. The restaurants serve a common gourmet – tripe, pap, roast corn, beef stew, and chicken feet, and, in some places, traditional beer. Based on interviews with operators of the informal businesses, this article examines the challenges borne by the enterprises and shows that many of the difficulties are caused by lack of adequate energy, both in quality and quantity, and inappropriate premises. Lack of awareness of, and training in business capital mobilization is noted as another handicap. Results further indicate a substantial use of LPG and paraffin in well-off areas, which indicates an on-going energy transition from solid to liquid and gaseous fuels. We conclude that an opportunity exists to provide safe, clean, and cost-effective energy services for accelerated business growth. A model for delivering such energy services, composed of energy technology and operational structure, is proposed for possible implementation by the stakeholders.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1927-0569
  • ISSN(Online): 1927-0577
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: semiannual

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