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As the country reels from last week’s approved Eskom tariff hikes, it is no surprise that 93% of urban South Africans claim that they will be adversely affected by the mega-increases. What is shocking, however, is that 7 out of every 10 urban South Africans is considering radical alternatives to just reducing electricity consumption to be able to pay for electricity in the future, including taking a second, or in some cases, third job and even immigration. This is according to dip-stick research conducted by Interact RDT, the consumer experience research consultancy.

Other tactics that will be employed to cope with the increased electricity price include limiting electricity usage (70%), buying energy efficient appliances (34%) and finding alternative power sources (31%). Only 2% of respondents report that they will not be affected by the increased cost of power.

The online survey was launched on the afternoon of the price hike announcement and consumers’ ire was clear with 86% saying that the price was unjustified and 80% putting the blame for this squarely on government.

“What was quite clear in this survey is that South African consumers are highly educated about the current Eskom power crisis,” says Gary Greenfield, managing director of Interact. “This wasn’t just a case of disgruntled customers bemoaning a price increase. The qualitative responses to some of our questions showed great insight into the cause and effect of the increases into the future.”

Some responses include…

“Although I do understand that there simply are not sufficient funds currently available to upgrade the power provision plants, I do NOT feel that the consumer (industry, business and private) should bear the entire brunt of the lack of foresight. “

“We should actively be looking for investment in sustainable and durable energy sources (solar/wind/wave/biomass…) to supplement our energy usage and Eskom should incentivise users to decrease their usage footprints.”

“No company should rely on a price increase to fund capital expenditure”

“Lack of managerial strategic insight and weak operational management, improper allocation of funds and forecasting of demand, lack of communication with the public to advise of impending crisis and encourage collaboration to limit the impacts of the affects seen by the electricity crisis in 2008.”

“The theft of electricity is a contributing factor to the increase but will also be a result.”

A vast majority of respondents (82%) report a very low level of confidence in Eskom’s ability to spend its new-found fortunes appropriately. To add insult to injury, 75% don’t believe that these increases will result is less load shedding. “There is no guarantee that these increases will be spent properly as the other monies already accumulated have not made it to where they should’ve,” commented one respondent.

“Overall, we weren’t surprised by any of the quantitative figures to come from this survey,” comments Greenfield. “But we have been astounded and impressed by the qualitative responses that show deep levels of understanding into the broader issues, including government’s role in the current situation. South Africans are often accused of being complacent but this survey shows us that consumers are very aware of the social and political landscape in which they live. For us, this is incredibly encouraging.”

About the survey & Interact RDT

The online survey was conducted on the day of the Nersa announcement. The majority of respondents were urban dwellers with only 3% claiming to live in a township and 7% in a rural area. Most were of working age (20 – 49 years) with a monthly household income ranging from R5 000 to R40 000. All participants are part of an online consumer survey panel.

Interact RDT (which stands for Research Design Training) offers a range of consumer experience research and consulting services designed to develop true loyalty from within a customer base. They operate within three distinct areas of focus:

  1. Deliver and manage compelling brand experiences to an external customer base.
  2. Create and enhance superior experiences for employees.
  3. Optimise the user experience delivered through websites, mobile platforms and other     digital environments.

 

For more information contact:

Gary Greenfield, managing director on 011 268 4600 or garyg@interactrdt.com

For media queries

Jennifer Kann, Lingo Communications on 083 455 3289 or jennifer@lingocom.co.za

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