There are many South Africans who may not know that the government provides Free Basic Electricity (FBE) to poor households.
This initiative is implemented by state-owned power utility Eskom and municipalities across the country through vendors and USSD codes every month.
What is FBE?
“Free Basic Electricity is the electricity allocated to support low-income households. It is the amount of electricity considered enough to run basic lighting, basic media access, basic ironing and boil water using an electrical kettle,” Eskom explained in a recent statement.
How it works
Local municipalities are responsible for identifying poor households that qualify for FBE and submitting updated lists to Eskom. Beneficiaries then collect their FBE vouchers every month from Eskom vending outlets.
The maximum amount of free electricity a household can get is between 50kWh and 60kWh per month, depending on the municipality it is located in.
If a household uses more than this amount in a month, it will have to pay for the additional amount. If you’re using a prepaid meter, it means you will have to top up.
“For credit-metered customers, the total units consumed will be reduced by the amount of free basic units,” the Department of Energy states. This means it might not be easy to know when you have used up the free units. Eskom or the municipality will add the extra charge on your bill at the end of the month.
How to check if you qualify
To check if your household qualifies for FBE, you need to contact your local municipal office, local ward councillor or a Community Development Worker. They will begin a vetting process to confirm if your household is poor/indigent.
If your household qualifies, the municipality will then include it in its list to Eskom, after which you will be able to claim the benefit every month.
Free Basic Electricity USSD code
Confirmed households can claim the benefit by visiting an Eskom vendor or by using the following Free Basic Electricity USSD codes via their cellphone: *130*869# or *130*269#
This USSD service is free of charge. Remember, vouchers are valid for one month only and will not accumulate to the next month.
“We urge all customers who have been advised by their respective municipalities that they do qualify for the FBE benefit to make use of it,” Eskom said.