Free Water and Electricity


Government has announced its intention of providing free basic water and electricity services for all. There is also an initiative to provide free sanitation services.

Although this is a National decision, water, sanitation and electricity are provided by local authorities and so the actual provision of these free basic services is the responsibility of your local municipality.

Free Water

By July 2001, approximately 23 million people in South Africa were receiving Free Basic Water.

The aim ultimately is to provide poor households with a basic supply of 6 000 litres of safe water per month free of charge. This might vary from municipality to municipality and you should contact your municipality directly to find out exactly what the free basic water service is that they provide.

You are required to pay for water that is used over and above the free supply.

For more information, contact your local municipality or contact:
Simpiwe Mashicila
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry
Tel: 021 946 3666
Fax: 012 323 3877

Free Electricity

Free electricity services are specifically targeted at poor households. These households will be provided with an small amount of electricity for free but they must pay for any electricity that is used over the basic service level.

The proposed amount of free electricity is 50kWh per household per month for a grid-based system. This is the approximately the amount of energy needed for basic lighting, running a small black and white TV and a small radio, basic ironing and basic water boiling through an electric kettle. 50Wp will be provided per non-grid connected supply system for all households connected to the official non-grid systems.

Users who have pre-paid electricity meters will be able see when the free electricity is used up and will be able to buy more electricity at their own expense. Users with credit meters will not be able to see easily when they have used up their units. They will be charged for additional use at the end of each month.

Free Basic Electricity will be phased in from July 2003, after Municipalities have received their funds from the Department of Provincial and Local Government.

For more information, speak to your local municipality or contact:
The Director Electricity Policy Analysis and Regulation
Department of Minerals and Energy
Private Bag x59, Pretoria, 0001
Tel: 012 317 9519
Fax: 012 317 9539


Following from the successful implementation of the Free Basic Water programme, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry is now in the process of developing a National Free Basic Sanitation Strategy. This is being done with guidance from the National Free Basic Water and Sanitation Task Team, which is chaired by SALGA and co-ordinated by DWAF. The aim is to develop a flexible national strategy, which assimilates the vast knowledge and practical experiences from within the water and sanitation sector.

When the strategy is finalised it will be implemented by the local authorities that provide sanitation services.

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The content on this page was last updated on 5 January 2015