2021 update: Eskom tariff increases vs inflation since 1988 (with projections to 2023)
by Sean Moolman
In 2015, 2017 and 2019 we published infographics showing Eskom annual tariff increases since 1988 compared to inflation.
Following Eskom’s court order success against NERSA in early 2021, it increased electricity prices by an average of 15.63% in April 2021. So what do the numbers look like today?
The graph below shows the Eskom tariffs from 1988 to 2021, plotted against CPI (Consumer Price Index) or inflation over the same period. It also shows projections up to 2023, based on expert forecasts and inflation projections.
Note: The graph depicts overall average increases – actual increases will be different for different types of consumers (residential, commercial and industrial) and will vary between municipalities.
Looking at the graph, the following can be noted:
In the period from 1988 up to the 2008 electricity crisis, electricity tariff increases did not keep tread with inflation. This was partly due to government policy to keep electricity tariffs as low as possible for poor communities, but also due to Eskom having an oversupply of electricity (in the 1990’s) and not investing in new capacity (in the 2000’s).
Between 1988 and 2007, electricity tariffs increased by 223%, whilst inflation over this period was 335%.
From the 2008 electricity crisis onwards, there is a clear and sharp inflection point for electricity tariffs in South Africa. From 2007 to 2021, electricity tariffs increased by 753%, whilst inflation over this period was134%. Thus, electricity tariffs increased more than five-fold in real money terms in 14 years.
Considering the current serious state of Eskom’s debt and the fact that the country probably cannot afford for Eskom to fail, consumers can likely expect a continuance of much higher than inflation electricity price increases over the next several years. Eskom is in serious need of restructuring – which the government at last acknowledged and announced in 2019. As of August 2021 this restructuring has not yet been implemented, although it is supposed to be completed over the next 18 months.