Prepaid Electricity Rates Per Unit 2023 South Africa

So you are confused about the electricity tariffs in South Africa. Well, there is no shame. The electricity distribution billing system in South Africa could be a university course, and take several years to understand. Luckily for you, however, this post is a simple breakdown of the prepaid electricity costs, so you can easily understand it.

Please bear in mind that there is no general charge for everybody; rather, the prices vary from municipality to municipality. Some cities are charged directly by ESKOM, while in some situations, the power company charges the municipality, while the municipality passes on the bill to residents. Does this mean that the latter group of people pays more or less than those charged directly by the power company? You will find out in this post.

Let us now go to the heart of the matter; the prepaid electricity tariffs in South Africa.

Prepaid Electricity Rates Per Unit 2023 South Africa

Direct Customers

Let us start with those who are charged directly by ESKOM. Customers who are charged directly by ESKOM will pay R137.70 (R158.36 plus VAT) per 0-600KWh. But it’s not that simple. Customers can even pay three times that amount, depending on their usage. 

Eskom divides its monthly supply into blocks. This is because usage and demand for electricity are very high, and rising. ESKOM, therefore, feels that it must take steps to reduce the demand- especially demand that is not needed: wasted.  Therefore ESKOM divides its monthly supply into blocks. The first block is 0-600KWh, and costs R158.36 VAT inclusive, while the second block is any figure above 600KWh, and costs R269.17 VAT inclusive.

As you can understand from the paragraphs above, the first block of electricity is at the lowest price. As customers purchase more electricity during the month, they will eventually buy into block 2 which is more expensive.

Eskom says that moving from one block to the next is automatic and depends entirely on the user, and how much electricity he consumes. The movement to the next block is not affected whether the purchases are spread over many transactions, and neither does it matter if you make a large purchase. 

This means that even if you make a large prepaid purchase, you will be charged with block one tariff which is R158.36 plus VAT, only as long as you do not CONSUME more than 600KWh for the month. The moment you use more than 600KWh you move into block 2 and you are charged accordingly.  At the end of the month, the history is reset and the customer will again be charged from block 1.

Municipalities are Charged Differently

Ideally, you would have to contact your local authority for the prices of electricity in your municipality. However, here are the new electricity charges for a few cities whose local authorities are responsible for the supply and subsidies on utilities.

Cape Town

Residents of Cape Town will now pay the following rates: 

Block 1:  (0 – 600 kWh per calendar month) will now cost R183.93 c per kWh plus VAT = 211.52 c/kWh. As explained earlier in this post, if you are a heavy user, and consume more than 600 KWh, then you move into block2. 

Block 2: Above 600 kWh per calendar month now costs 253.83 c/kWh plus VAT) = 291.90 c/kWh.


Residents of Johannesburg will now pay significantly increased electricity tariffs; the proposed tariffs for residential prepaid customers are as follows.

Block 1: the City states that if a customer uses about 374kWh/month, he will pay only 205.62c/kWh for what he uses.

Block 2: When the customer who on the conventional tariff exceeds 374kwh then he will pay as high as  303.58c/kWh because of the effect of the proposed introduction of the capacity charge. Please contact your local authority for further information.

For other cities and municipalities, please contact your local authority. 

Conclusion On Prepaid Electricity Rates Per Unit in South Africa

As we struggle to come to terms with the new realities on the ground, and the effects they will have on our finances, let us conclude this post with some advice from  Citiq Prepaid managing director, Michael Franze.

He believes that the key to surviving this new electricity price hike is to minimize what we consume. He, therefore, advises us to pay attention to the capacity of any electrical appliance before purchasing it. “The amount of power an appliance uses also called its power rating,” determines how much we spend every time we turn it on. 

This rating is measured in Watts (W), and “this is always marked on the packaging or somewhere on the appliance.” We, therefore, have to examine each appliance carefully to know its power rating. We may also compare the [power ratings of several appliances until we get the one with the smallest figure. It is also a good idea to ask the salesperson.

“ So an energy-saving lightbulb might use 20W and an iron would be around 1 000W.” let us pay attention to the fact that electricity costs are measured in units of energy, which is measured in kiloWatt hours (kWh).

“So your unit will last a long time if you’re using appliances with a low power rating,” that is energy-saving bulbs, and other such appliances, “or get used up really fast if you’re using more power-hungry appliances” examples are pressing irons. “A good general rule is that the more heat an appliance generates, the more power it uses.”

  1. Choose the right Appliances to make Savings

Franze says choosing something as simple as a light bulb can help you save money. “For example, if you leave a 100W old school traditional light bulb on for a whole week, which is 168 hours, you’ll use nearly 17 units of electricity. If you are paying R1.50b for a unit of electricity, then it works out to about R25.50 to keep that one light bulb on for a week.” But if you purchased a 4W LED energy-saving bulb instead, “you’ll use just over 0.6 units in the same week, and spend about R1 –which means a saving of R24.”

  1. Use your appliances for Fewer Hours

The second way to save money on electricity is to use each appliance for fewer hours. Franz says “Fridges, freezers, and alarm systems are the only things in the house that need to be on all the time. With everything else, you could do well to switch them off sometimes. Switching off things like TVs and DVD players at the wall when you’re not using them is one of the easiest ways to save money.”