Realising the Right to Electricity Through Off-Grid Power Solutions in South Africa




off-grid power, electricity, loadshedding, south africa, Right to electricity


The South African government is navigating many basic municipal service delivery challenges, including a growing electricity supply deficit. Eskom Holdings SOC Limited, the state-owned power utility, is struggling to generate and supply a stable and uninterrupted flow of electricity through its grid system. The inadequate generation capacity results in rotating power outages, known as loadshedding, which occur when demand surpasses generating capability. This fundamental service delivery challenge, in conjunction with South Africa's climate change responses, including the decision to work towards energy efficiency, renewable energy and cleaner energy or a "just transition" from coal to clean energy, encourages many South Africans who have the necessary means to invest in off-grid energy solutions that operate alongside and at times independently of Eskom's grid. This paper considers from a legal perspective how and to what extent legislation on electricity supply and municipal by-laws empower household consumers to fulfil their right to electricity by going off-grid. The paper ultimately considers the import of this on South Africa's energy governance framework for electricity provision in the country.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Germarie Viljoen, Faculty of Law at the North-West University

Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, North-West University, South Africa.

Felix Dube, University of Pretoria

Postdoctoral fellow, Department of Public, Constitutional and International Law, College of Law, University of South Africa.




Chamberlain L and Masiangoako T "Third Time Lucky? Provincial Intervention in the Makana Local Municipality" 2021 SALJ 423-459 DOI:

Department of Minerals and Energy White Paper on the Energy Policy of the Republic of South Africa (Department of Minerals and Energy Pretoria 1998)

Du Plessis W "Energy Efficiency and the Law: A Multidisciplinary Approach" 2015 South African Journal of Science 1-8 DOI:

Du Plessis W "Energy Efficiency: The Progress of Policy, Legislation, and the Role of the Courts" 2018 SAJELP 175-203

Du Plessis W Energy Law in South Africa (Kluwer Alphen aan den Rijn 2020)

Dube F and Moyo C "The Right to Electricity in South Africa" 2022 PELJ 1-21 DOI:

Muller G and Viljoen S-M Property in Housing (Juta Cape Town 2021)

Pieterse M "Anatomy of a Crisis: Structural Factors Contributing to the Collapse of Urban Municipal Governance in Emfuleni, South Africa" 2020 Urban Forum 1-15 DOI:

Radley B and Lehmann-Grube P "Off-Grid Solar Expansion and Economic Development in the Global South: A Critical Review and Research Agenda" 2022 Energy Research and Social Science 1-15 DOI:

United Nations Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (UN New York 2015)

Wessels J-A "Green Building" in Du Plessis AA (ed) Environmental Law and Local Government in South Africa 2nd ed (Juta Cape Town 2021) ch 25

Wright J, Dube F and Du Plessis A "Judicial Enforcement of Mandatory Provincial Interventions in Municipalities in South Africa" 2022 VRÜ/WCL 105-125 DOI:

Case law

Coetzee v Premier, Mpumalanga Province (High Court, Gauteng Division) (unreported) case number 2799/2017 of 6 April 2018

Concerned Citizen of Tswaing/SIBU v Local Municipality of Tswaing (1498/09) [2009] ZANWHC 17 (26 June 2009)

Daniels v Scribante 2017 4 SA 341 (CC) DOI:

Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd v Resilient Properties (Pty) Ltd; Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd v Sabie Chamber of Commerce and Tourism; Chweu Local Municipality v Sabie Chamber of Commerce and Tourism 2021 1 All SA 668 (SCA)

Federation for Sustainable Environment v Minister of Water Affairs (35672/12) [2012] ZAGPPHC 128 (10 July 2012)

Government of the Republic of South Africa v Grootboom 2000 11 BCLR 1169 (CC)

Joseph v City of Johannesburg 2010 4 SA 55 (CC)

Kgetlengrivier Concerned Citizens v Kgetlengrivier Local Municipality (UM 271/2020) [2020] ZANWHC 95 (18 December 2020) DOI:

Makeshift 1190 (Pty) Ltd v Cilliers 2020 3 All SA 234 (WCC)

Mazibuko v City of Johannesburg 2010 3 BCLR 239 (CC)

Rademan v Moqhaka Local Municipality 2013 4 SA 225 (CC)

Residents of Joe Slovo Community, Western Cape v Thubelisha Homes 2010 3 SA 454 (CC)

Unemployed Peoples Movement v Eastern Cape Premier 2020 3 SA 562 (ECG)


Beaufort West Local Municipality: Zoning Scheme By-law, 2022

Cape Agulhas Local Municipality: Zoning Scheme By-law, 2022

Cederberg Local Municipality: Zoning Scheme By-law, 2020

City of Matlosana Local Municipality: Electricity By-laws, 2022

City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality: Green Building Development By-law, 2012

Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002

Electricity Act 41 of 1987

Electricity Regulation Act 4 of 2006

eMalahleni Local Municipality: Electricity By-laws, 2021

eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality: Water Supply By-laws, 1996 as amended

George Local Municipality: Electricity Supply By-law, 2010

Housing Act 107 of 1997

Infrastructure Development Act 23 of 2014 DOI:

Kouga Local Municipality: Electricity By-law, 2021

Langeberg Local Municipality: Standard By-law Relating to Electricity Supply, 2018

Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act 56 of 2003

Local Government: Municipal Property Rates Act 6 of 2004

Local Government: Municipal Systems Act 32 of 2000

National Building Regulations and Standards Act 103 of 1977

National Energy Act 34 of 2008

National Energy Regulator Act 4 of 2004

National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998

Nuclear Energy Act 46 of 1999

Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993

Oudtshoorn Local Municipality: Electricity Supply By-law, 2009

Oudtshoorn Local Municipality: Integrated Zoning Scheme By-law, 2021

Oudtshoorn Local Municipality: Solar Water Heating By-law, 2009

Overstrand Local Municipality: By-Law Relating to Electricity Supply, 2016

Saldanha Bay Local Municipality: Electricity Supply By-law, 2022

uMvoti Local Municipality: Electricity Supply By-laws, 2019

Government documents

GN R984 in GG 32838 of 4 December 2014 (Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations Listing Notice 1 and 2)

GN 2466 in GG 46871 of 8 September 2022

GN 2875 in GG 47757 of 15 December 2022

GN 3020 in GG 48009 of 9 February 2023

International instruments

CESCR General Comment No 4: The Right to Adequate Housing (Art 11(1) of the Covenant) UN Doc E/1992/23 (1991) Annex III

Internet sources

City of Cape Town Date Unknown Saving Electricity accessed 11 March 2023

City of Cape Town 2023 Cash for Power: Cape Town Gets Treasury Exemption to Pay Businesses and Residents Directly news/Cash%20for%20power%20Cape%20Town%20gets%20Treasury%20exemption%20to%20pay%20businesses%20and%20residents%20directly accessed 13 March 2023

City of Cape Town 2023 How to Get Cash for Power

cash%20for%20power accessed 11 March 2023

Eskom Date Unknown Small-Scale Embedded Generators accessed 11 March 2023

Eskom Technical Governance Department 2020 Grid Interconnection of Embedded Generation: Part 2: Small-Scale Embedded Generation accessed 30 October 2022

Eskom 2022 Small-Scale Embedded Generation

distribution/small-scale-embedded-generators/#Licensing accessed 30 October 2022

Mantashe G 2022 Solar Power Africa 2022 Conference CTICC

solar%20resource%20potential,provinces%20host%20solar%20power%20projects accessed 29 October 2022

Overstrand Municipality Date Unknown Electricity http://www.overstrand accessed 11 March 2023

Polokwane Municipality Date Unknown Registration of Connected Small Scale Embedded Generators accessed 11 March 2023

South African Institution of Civil Engineering 2022 SAICE 2022 Infrastructure Report Card Card for South Africa https://saice. accessed 13 March 2023

South African Law Government Association 2020 Status of Small-Scale Embedded Generation (SSEG) in South African Municipalities accessed 13 March 2023

United Nations Environment Programme 2022 GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

-goals/why-do-sustainable-development-goals-matter/goal-7 accessed 13 March 2023



How to Cite

Viljoen, G., & Dube, F. (2023). Realising the Right to Electricity Through Off-Grid Power Solutions in South Africa. Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal, 26, (Published on 23 November 2023) pp 1 – 25.



Special Edition: Environmental & Energy Law

Similar Articles

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 > >> 

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.