Thermal fuels in South Africa are becoming prohibitively expensive for the majority of the population, with Eskom announcing annual price increases well above inflation and oil, despite the grip of a global recession, continually priced above $100 a barrel (which translate into high LPG and paraffin/kerosene prices). What are low-income households expected to use for crucial thermal applications such as cooking food, heating water and space heating?
Many low-income, (un)electrified households use candles and paraffin lanterns for lighting. Each day in South Africa, an average of 10 homes (particularly in informal ‘shack’ dwellings) are burned to the ground – that is a total of more than 3500 a year. These fires take the lives of more than 200 people each year; 15,000 children are treated for shack-fire related burns annually. What are low-income households supposed to use for lighting?
With these disturbing realities as the backdrop, The EnerGcare initiative aims to promote the use of renewable and energy efficient technologies that are affordable, safe and durable. Based on a direct sales model, the initiative utilises sales agents who demonstrate the technologies in public spaces such as taxi ranks, pension pay points, clinics and schools. The lack of retail infrastructure combined with the lack of knowledge regarding renewable energy and energy efficient technologies means the direct sales model is both practical and necessary. Sales agents receive training from The Business Place and work on a commission basis with marketing and product support from EnerGcare.
This informal ‘direct sales’ approach will generate a greater understanding and familiarity around these products which will assist EnerGcare in evolving this approach into a more conventional [micro] franchise opportunity.