Investigating the Current and Future Roles of Paraffin in South Africa

"This study has explored the topic of current and future paraffin use by low-income households in South Africa and particularly issues around its desirability and necessity as part of the household fuel mix. As part of this, the viability of alternatives were investigated. Stakeholder perceptions were also explored around key challenges around health and safety of this fuel and potential options to address these going forward. The study also investigated the role of energy legislation and the DoE’s approach to the household sector. Key shortcomings were identified in the design and implementation of national household energy policy interventions that focus predominantly on electrification. This research did not elicit any information that either the DoE or petrochemical companies are likely to phase out paraffin. From a demand perspective, the focus groups indicated that there is likely to be continuing demand for this product. Consumers see paraffin as an important part of their household energy mix, and indicate that it is their preferred fuel for cooking certain meal types and is seen as an essential backup fuel. Paraffin is likely to continue to be used by low income households, although overall consumption is estimated to continue to gradually decline. This decline may be accelerated if government initiates an LPG switching programme for the low income household sector or if there are significant awareness and education campaigns around costs and affordability of different fuel types. There appears to be little support for actively encouraging the growth and use of paraffin in South Africa. The DoE do not view it as a modern fuel aligned with the aspirations of a post-apartheid society, and their preferences clearly lie in electrification or LPG. Other stakeholders interviewed felt it problematic to promote a fuel with such significant health and safety challenges, particularly for the most vulnerable parts of the population."