Gariseb wins for the common people 

 By Nahum Kantene

Social justice activist Shaun Evert Gariseb led an online petition against the proposed electricity tariff increase. Gariseb said the petition came after the Electricity Control Board rejected his objection letter on Thursday, 27, on the increased tariffs that can be used under the Electricity Act 2007 Section 43.

Over 6000 participants signed the petition. “After acknowledgement from the Electoral Board Control, they could not establish the reason for increasing tariffs.

“I then approached the Minister of Mines and Energy, Tom Alweendo, and asked how he could not have the power to issue licences of (IPP) Independent Power Producer to determine or supervise electricity pricing,” he stated. After a public outcry, the ECB announced the cancellation of an 8% electricity tariff increase by the Electricity Control Board on July 3 2024.

These electricity tariffs will remain unchanged until June 30 2025. Gariseb stated that he had initially staged a demonstration for the petitioners on July 6 but was halted after government intervention in the increased tariffs on July 3.

He continued to say that alternatively, the government should support installing solar power and energy-saving devices in homes and small businesses, provide rechargeable lights for households, and assist students who live in underprivileged communities. Economist Josef Sheehama has described tariff increases in the last three years as devastating. “The increases in electricity were a disaster and negatively impacted individuals and businesses. Given that the rate of tariff increase exceeds the rate of inflation, pressure is expected to be used on the future of inflation and, in addition, on the prices of goods and services,” he says.

Sheehama stated that implementing various measures, such as campaigning, reducing end-use consumption, removing transmission bottlenecks and reducing energy production, and increasing supply, are necessary to manage an electricity crisis in which the Electricity Control Board (ECB) can assist. 

“While waiting for the development of green hydrogen, the government must influence municipalities to implement free basic electricity allowances, which will protect the poorest households from the impact of tariff increases”, he explained. “The primary goal of these measures that will have the biggest impact on poorer families is to establish a framework for protecting them through tariff and subsidy structure in the context of rising costs”, he explained. Sheehama says the rising cost of electricity is pressuring businesses to evaluate their workforce and stress test wage increases that could significantly affect their cash flow.

“These decisions could result in job losses and have a significant effect on Namibia’s economy overall,” he says. When asked about what measures they have put in place to serve as a relief to households and businesses due to prevailing inflation, the board CEO, Robert Kahimise, said that in determining the bulk electricity tariff, the Electricity Board of Namibia considers typically various factors such as the impact of the tariff on the Electricity Supply Industry, consumers and the economy at large.

He said the decision was taken to prevent regional electricity distributors, local authorities, regional councils and mines from losing money. The Electricity Control Board has approved increased electricity tariffs yearly since 2021-2022.

The ECB annual tariff report shows that the 2021-2022 year saw an increase of the tariffs to 2.92 %. The 2022-2023 saw the increase skyrocket to 7.30 %. This means that tariffs increased by 10—22% in the two years.