Working Papers

Legal principles pertaining to the powers exercised by South Africa’s energy regulator (Nersa) – what we can learn from recent court cases?

Legal principles pertaining to the powers exercised by South Africa’s energy regulator (Nersa) – what we can learn from recent court cases?

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15 Oct 2020

Author(s): Dawid van Wyk and Gerhard Erasmus

Services are vital for economic growth. The services sector is the most rapidly growing segment of the world economy. It adds significant value to manufacturing and agricultural production. Services are also the most important sector for investment. Policy initiatives to grow services for domestic economic development, to introduce market reforms, and to promote regional integration are urgent but also challenging. Institutional and regulatory reforms will be necessary, as will be the harmonization of regulatory regimes.

The negotiations for establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) include a Protocol on Trade in Services. Five priority areas will be liberalized at the outset and more are expected to follow. And COVID-19 has taught us important lessons in respect of the need to prioritise additional services sectors such as public health and educational services.

This Working Paper discusses a number of recent South African court cases in which the legal principles pertaining to the powers exercised by the regulator responsible for energy services in South Africa are explained. This useful overview sheds light not only on an important area of public law, but also on the policy context in which services regulators operate. Electricity tariffs is only one of the problems to be fixed. Additional urgent reforms are necessary in order to increase efficiency, to make Eskom more cost-effective and less prone to corruption.


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