Namibian consumers vote by SMS on power tariffs

Namibia’s electricity supplier asked consumers whether they wanted higher rates or less power—and the result, based on responses sent by SMS: rates will rise by 18,3%.

The Electricity Control Board and power utility NamPower announced the increase on Tuesday. The country has been grappling with shortfalls from South Africa, from which it imports the bulk of its supplies.

Namibia, Africa’s second-biggest uranium producer, imports about 50% of its electricity, mainly from neighbouring South Africa, which has been experiencing a shortage of power due to increased demand.

Last week, the electricity board conducted a survey in which Namibians were asked to vote on whether they preferred an increase in electricity tariffs or power cuts.

Siseho Simasiku, the board’s chief executive, said about 6 683 valid entries were received and 34,7% voted for less power while 65,3% voted for higher rates.

“The board is overwhelmed with the response we received. Consumers called, faxed, emailed and gave tips on how the energy shortage should be handled.
This will assist in making future decisions about emergency generators and the prices associated with that,” he said.

Namibia has a population of about two million people, about 750 000 of whom have access to cellphones, according to statistics from the main mobile services provider, MTC.

Simasiku said Namibia has been forced to buy electricity from more expensive sources. The increased revenue from the new rate will also be used to support local generation projects.—Sapa-AP

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