However large or small the property, ensure your new house feels like a home with this guide on how to arrange the essentials such as how to access the internet and water in South Africa.
Finding suitable providers for services such as internet and mobile phones when living abroad can be a challenge. Find suitable service providers and get to grips with recycling in South Africa, telecommunications in South Africa, and more with this useful guide.
Telecommunications in South Africa
Telecommunications in South Africa is provided to a good standard in urban areas, including internet, television and phone services. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of providers in all industries, meaning greater consideration needs to be given to choosing the appropriate packages.
Broadband and internet in South Africa
There are over 12 million internet users in South Africa, which represents around 34% of the population. Internet coverage is mostly restricted to urban areas and some users are restricted to dial-up as broadband availability is limited, though improving. Wireless broadband is available in the cities and hotspots are ubiquitous in hotels, cafes, etc.
There are a number of internet providers in South Africa. Telkom, the partially state-owned provider of telecommunications in South Africa, is the largest company providing both fixed line and wireless packages. Other popular internet providers in South Africa include Neotel, MWEB, Vodacom, MTN and Cell C.
Speeds vary but are normally between 2-40Mb, depending on the provider. Pricing is expensive given the speeds available and consists of three parts – ADSL line rental (starting at R165 a month for a 2Mb line), regular phone line rental (R189 a month) and internet service provider (ISP) which starts at around R25 a month for 1GB. Telkom and Neotel are the only internet providers in South Africa that provide landline rental. Companies have started offering internet provision that doesn’t require a landline, through fibre optic router, although coverage is still limited.
To set up internet in South Africa, you will need to make sure you have a working landline with either Telkom or Neotel. You then choose your internet provider. The time taken to set up internet connection in your home will depend on which provider you choose.
You can shop for the cheapest and most suitable internet deals through the following websites.
South African TV
South Africa TV includes four main stations, three are run by the state-owned South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) – SABC 1, SABC 2, SABC 3 – and eTV. There are also various community-based stations such as Cape Town TV and Soweto TV, and a digital satellite provider DStv which provides over 100 channels.
To watch TV in South Africa, you will need a valid TV license which costs R265 a year. There is a monthly payment option with a small premium, which works out at R336 per year.
South Africa has recently made the switch from analogue to digital so in most areas, you won’t need to worry about an aerial for the reception. Cost of TVs vary greatly depending on model and size and can vary from R2,000 to R200,000. You can search some options using the comparison sites below:
Landlines for a South African phone number
Landline rental is provided by only two companies – Telkom (who until fairly recently had a monopoly on South African line rental) and Neotel. Telkom offers standard landline rental alongside various internet and mobile phone deals. Neotel offers a wider range of packages at cheaper prices but has more limited coverage. Both companies charge an installation fee.
Landlines can be ordered from either company online or by phone. Once the order is placed, the company will contact you to set a date for installation or delivery.
Mobile phones with a South African phone number
Mobile phones in South Africa are common, with 90% of the national territory covered by the GSM network. There are five main mobile phone providers in South Africa: Cell C, Vodacom, Virgin Mobile, MTN South Africa and Telkom (formerly 8ta).
Both Pay As You Go SIM cards and contract deals are available. To sign up for a contract, you will need to provide bank details, South African ID, proof of address and proof of income.
The cost of operating a mobile phone in South Africa has reduced greatly in the last five years due to the reduction of the interconnect rate (the cost of one mobile network connecting to another network).
You can use these sites to compare deals on mobile phone contracts in South Africa:
If you have a complaint or need to raise an issue with any of the telecommunications industries in South Africa, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is the national regulating body for telecommunications in South Africa.
Gas, electricity and water in South Africa
The main utilities in South Africa households are electricity and water. Gas, in the form of Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), is used in many low-income households, mainly for cooking and sometimes for heating. As part of a sustainability and clean living drive, the South African government plans to greatly increase its use of renewable energy by 2030.
Gas in South Africa
Domestic homes in South Africa are not supplied with gas like they are in many other countries. Gas is used, mostly in the form of LPG, for cooking and heating appliances but is purchased in cylinder containers of various sizes. It is used mostly in low-income households as a cheaper energy supply option. It accounts for around only 3 percent of energy consumption in South Africa.
There are a variety of companies who provide LPG to South African households, including Total, Afrox and Reatile. Most companies will sell in either small cylinder containers or in bigger bulk units, depending on how much is required. They will also provide safe installation along with tips on health, safety and maintenance.
LPG providers are overseen by the Liquid Petroleum Gas Safety Association (LPGSA), which is a non-profit body that works with the government and other public services to ensure gas safety as well as offering training for members.
In the event of an emergency, you can contact your gas supplier or the national emergency response line 10111. If you live in Johannesburg, there is a gas leaks and faults emergency line 011 726 3138.
Electricity in South Africa
Electricity in South Africa is provided by a sole producer, the state-owned organisation Eskom, which supplies approximately 95% of the electricity in South Africa and around 45% of the electricity used in the whole of Africa.
Eskom offers various tariff options for urban, rural and residential areas, such as a ‘nightsaver’ option. The standard price for electricity in South Africa is currently around R1.18/kwh. There is a connection fee for those moving into a new or unconnected property which varies depending on whether it is in an urban, rural or residential area, but is around R800. Reconnection fees, if the supply is terminated for non-payment, are around the same amount.
To set up an account with Eskom, you will need to contact them with details of your address, including proof of address, along with South African ID. There are a variety of payment options for electricity bills, including direct debit, internet, telephone payment, post office, bank, Eskom walk-in centres or EasyPay in many supermarkets and family stores.
The Eskom emergency number is 0860 037 566.
The regulator for electricity in South Africa is NERSA (National Energy Regulator of South Africa) who you can contact in the event of a complaint or dispute that hasn’t been resolved satisfactorily.
South Africa uses 230v mains electricity.
Water in South Africa
The South African water supply and sanitation are managed by 13 regional state-owned Water Boards, overseen by the Department for Water Affairs (DWA). In 2000, the South African government introduced a free water policy to ensure that each household receives their first six cubic meters of water per month free of charge. After that, rates vary depending on the district but range from around R2-4 per cubic meter. Bills are issued monthly by post and can be paid at the post office or the municipality itself. Some areas have begun to make the move across to online billing and payment.
When moving to South Africa, you’ll need to sign up with the Water Board that governs your area. A list can be found here. Information on water and sanitation services for Cape Town is available here and for Johannesburg is available here.
The emergency number for issues with water supply in South Africa is 0860 103054.
Rubbish disposal and recycling in South Africa
Waste management in South Africa is managed at by the municipalities. Service levels are uneven, with urban affluent areas accessing far better domestic waste collection services. Currently, around 61% of all South African households have access to kerbside waste collection.
In Cape Town, there is a weekly door-to-door bag collection. Residents can also apply for a domestic wheelie bin and drop waste off at one of the city’s 24 drop-off sites. There is also a collection and drop-off service for recyclables.
In Johannesburg, waste management has been contracted to a company called Pikitup which deals with street cleaning and has 12 depots across the city. There is a domestic collection which is charged according to size.
- www.telkom.co.za – the main landline provider in South Africa
- www.neotel.co.za – also provides landline service as well as phone and internet tariffs
- www.tvlic.co.za – for TV licenses in South Africa
- www.eskom.co.za – the electricity provider in South Africa
- www.capetown.gov.za – Cape Town local government website
- www.joburg.gov.za – Johannesburg local government website
- www.emergency.co.za – list of emergency numbers
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