Electric Development in South Africa

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    THE rapid economic development of South Africa during the last twenty years is illustrated by the remarkable growth that has taken place in the development of electricity both for industrial and domestic purposes. The extent to which the Union of South Africa is electrified is shown by the sales of electrical energy being 1,670 units per head of population per annum (excluding natives). This figure is twice that for the United States of America and nearly four times the corresponding figure for Great Britain. In a paper on “South African Activity” by H. A. Eastman, published in the Electrical Review for June 2, some of the reasons for this rapid and continuing growth are given. Three fifths of the total demand for electricity is due to the requirements for gold mining purposes. When the numerous mines in process of development are brought to the production stage, this will be greatly increased. The use of electricity for other industries and for domestic purposes is also increasing. The average price received by the generating stations is 0-6d. per unit. The Electricity Act which came into force in 1922 provided for the establishment of an Electricity Control Board, which is the licensing and controlling authority for all private electricity undertakings. It also controls the Electricity Supply Commission, the members of which are appointed by the Government, but which, nevertheless, is free from parliamentary control. The Electricity Supply Commission operates its undertakings at neither a profit nor a loss and adjusts its charges accordingly. Other licencees are required to refund each year to their consumers, pro rota to their payments, 25 per cent of the surplus profits of the undertaking for that year.

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    Electric Development in South Africa. Nature 143, 973 (1939) doi:10.1038/143973b0

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