The International Energy Agency estimates that the number of people without access increased in 2020 for the first time since 2013 in Sub-Saharan Africa. In South Africa, approximately 5 million of the country’s population remain without access to electricity amidst the ongoing energy crisis.
This means that the poorest and disadvantaged communities remain on the periphery of social, health and economic opportunities. Without electricity, this segment of the population, dwelling mostly in townships, informal settlements and rural areas relies on biomass and paraffin for household cooking and heating, with increased usage during winter months. Biomass is regarded as “any carbon-based material such as animal waste, industrial waste woody material such as planks, plant material or food waste”.
Apart from the inherent dangers of burning biomass indoors such as possible shack fires, there are serious public health implications. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), as many as 3.8 million people die prematurely every year from illness attributable to the household air pollution caused by inefficient use of solid fuels and kerosene for cooking.
Ducat Energy Trading, a subsidiary of Ducat Trading SA, which recently commenced its operations in South Africa, is intent to make inroads in the country’s energy sector by making liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) accessible to poor communities. “The cost of cleaner cooking alternatives such as LPG remains one of the biggest barriers to entry into disadvantaged communities. We believe LPG has a central role to play in ensuring the region’s energy dignity and our aim is to service geographically remote and developing communities whilst reducing emissions by allowing consumers to switch away from paraffin and biomass energy generation,” says Thiru Govender, Head: LPG Southern Africa.
Having lagged significantly in comparison to other countries around the world, South Africa’s LPG market is expected to experience reform and rapid growth in next few years in line with the Gas Master Plan, which aims to increase consumption and local manufacturing to circumvent import costs.
With a wholesale licence for the distribution of LPG in South Africa, and recent acquisition of a bottling plant in the Western Cape, Ducat Energy Trading is well positioned to achieve its goal to have 50,000 Ubuntu Gas cylinders in circulation at the end of its 3-year roll-out phase. The first charge of 11,000 cylinders will be available countrywide from August this year.
“We see significant growth for LPG in light of the well-documented power supply challenges in South Africa. Through Ubuntu Gas, we are committed to investing in cylinders as well as bottling plants to support communities in the adoption of cleaner and safer energy alternatives that are also cost-effective.” adds Govender.
There are challenges, including township and rural dwellers’ apprehension regarding LPG, however, Ducat Energy has prepared for this. The company is currently in the final stages of creating a framework for an extensive educational drive to ensure safety and promote sustainable living. Also in the pipeline is the launch of the Clean Community Initiative to address broader energy challenges such as lighting and refrigeration, among others.
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