Most expensive cities for electricity in South Africa

Cape Town has the highest electricity prices of South Africa’s major metros and cities. However, users without prepaid meters in Johannesburg pay the highest fixed electricity costs even before consuming a single kilowatt-hour of power.

That is according to MyBroadband’s analysis of electricity tariffs in twelve of South Africa’s biggest municipalities in March 2024.

Eskom has implemented big hikes in electricity tariffs in recent years, forcing municipalities to adjust the prices charged to consumers.

Earlier this year, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) approved a 12.74% electricity tariff hike for municipalities in the 2024/25 financial year.

The hikes for Eskom Direct customers are set to come into effect from April 2024, while municipal customers will see their adjustments from June 2024.

Municipal increases will not necessarily be exactly the same as Eskom’s hikes, as each municipality can apply to Nersa for an additional increase on top of Eskom’s allowed hike.

MyBroadband wanted to get a clearer picture of the current status of municipal electricity prices across the country, seeing as these will still be in place for another two months.

For our comparison, we used tariffs that would apply to residential households consuming the national average of 900kWh per month through a single-phase connection.

We then calculated the total cost of a bill for both prepaid and conventional users, taking into account additional fixed fees, and divided them in half to determine an average bill price.

Tariffs were collected from South Africa’s three capitals, biggest metros, and other large cities across all nine provinces.

Cape Town energy charges the highest — but Joburg fixed fees astronomical

The City of Cape Town’s average energy charges for a 900kWh prepaid or conventional meter user was the highest of our selected municipalities.

In addition, any property with a value of R1 million or higher must pay an additional R252.09 fixed service charge.

While much higher than the fixed service charges of cities like Gqeberha and Ekurhuleni, Cape Town’s fixed fee is a far cry from the City of Joburg’s.

It not only slaps a R240.56 service fee on customers with a conventional meter but also a R708.63 capacity charge.

Therefore, Johannesburg residents without a prepaid meter pay around R950 even before they consume a single kilowatt-hour of electricity.

However, when they start using electricity, they have among the most affordable energy charges.

Residents of Durban had the lowest average monthly bill thanks to a combination of relatively low tariffs and no basic serve charge.

The most affordable average price per kWh from our selection of cities without additional monthly fixed charges was available in Bloemfontein.

The city’s Mangaung Municipality only charged R2.76 per kWh during the summer months. However, this climbs to R3.53 during winter, so the average bill was not the cheapest of the cities in our comparison.

It was the only city that charges residential customers different fees based on season. This is similar to what Eskom does with its Direct customers.

A noteworthy trend in pricing was that most municipalities only charged fixed service fees for conventional meters.

This makes sense, given that there is a cost involved in having workers check these meters for their readings.

However, several also charged fixed fees for prepaid meters, including Rustenburg, with a costly R396.43 fixed charge.

The table below compares the residential electricity tariffs of 12 municipalities in South Africa in March 2024, ranked from most to least expensive average bills.

Municipal electricity price comparison
Assuming 900kWh monthly usage
City Prepaid average tariff (per kWh) Conventional billed tariff (per kWh) Average bill on 900kWh monthly usage (includes fixed monthly charge) Fixed monthly charge
Cape Town R3.76 R3.48 R3,509.89 R252.09 service charge for all properties valued over R1 million
Pretoria R3.43 R3.43 R3,090.69 None
East London R3.42 R3.40 R3,082.25 R73.90 service charge for conventional meters
Ekurhuleni R3.32 R3.32 R3,062.15 R73.90 service charge for all customers
Optional R324.60 for viewing balance online
Nelspruit/Mbombela R3.42
(third-party vendors)
R3.26 R3,008.24 None
Gqeberha R3.25 R3.25 R2,990.32 R69.00 service charge or conventional meters
Rustenburg R2.74 R2.75 R2,947.15 R396.43 service charge for prepaid meters
R555.75 service charge for conventional meters
Polokwane R2.99 R2.99 R2,858.33 R171.17 service charge for all customers
Johannesburg R2.80 R2.47 R2,846.22 R240.56 service charge for conventional meters
R708.63 capacity charge for conventional meters
Bloemfontein Summer: R2.76
Winter: R3.53
Summer: R2.76
Winter: R3.53
R2,829.41 None
Kimberley R3.03 R3.03 R2,724.50 None
Durban R2.97 R2.97 R2,671.44 None

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Most expensive cities for electricity in South Africa