Utilities in Cape Town

Streetlights consuming electricity in Cape TownTenants and landlords generally share the responsibility for paying utilities in Cape Town. Water, rates and refuse are often included in the rental while tenants are responsible for electricity and services such as telephone, Internet and, where applicable, gas. With the exception of electricity, the tenant will have to set up these amenities themselves when they move in.

Buyers, on the other hand, will need to set up all utility accounts from scratch.

Utilities in Cape Town



The Cape Town Municipality supplies water which is charged on a sliding scale according to the amount used and includes a free basic allocation. Bills can be paid online, at any Post Office and at most supermarkets. Water quality in Cape Town meets first world standards and tap water is completely safe to drink.


Gas can only be bought or delivered in canister form and is not supplied via pipes as it is in European or American homes. Gas bottles can be bought at most service stations and gas company outlets. There are also several gas delivery services.


Electricity in South Africa is provided by Eskom, the national energy supplier. Occasionally, demand outstrips supply which causes scheduled blackouts in certain areas, especially during the winter months. This is not generally a frequent occurrence.

Consecutive increases in the price of electricity have plagued consumers since 2010 and, as a result of poor planning, costs don't look to be decreasing anytime soon. Tenants can either set up an account with the municipality and receive monthly bills or make use of pre-paid meters that are topped up by vouchers purchased at most supermarkets.

Telephone and internet

There are two fixed-line telephone service operators in South Africa. Telkom, which is partially owned by the state, is the older of the two and still owns the majority of network infrastructure. Neotel, on the other hand, started operating in 2005 and has significantly grown, offering both post-paid and prepaid options to consumers.  

Even if an expat decides to use a different internet service provider, they will have to opt for one of the two networks to get an ADSL line although both companies do offer voice and data packages. Internet service packages vary widely in terms of data, speed and price.

There are five mobile operators in South Africa, namely Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Virgin Mobile and Telkom Mobile. These not only provide cellular services but also a variety of mobile internet options that are generally more cost effective than fixed ADSL lines.


Garbage is placed in black refuse bags, dumped in a black wheelie bin supplied by the municipality, and collected once a week on a set day for each neighbourhood. The municipality supplies one bin per property, although additional bins can be purchased. The refuse charge is included in the monthly rates, sewerage and water bill.

Recycling is still not common practice, although it is growing and is encouraged by the city. It is worth making the effort to separate out recyclables and taking them to a nearby facility for processing, or to contact a company that collects residential recyclables. A list of recycling depots and initiatives is available on the Cape Town government website.

Don't be alarmed when finding well-organised scavengers moving methodically down one's road on rubbish day, going through the bins to see if there's anything useful. They will neatly place all the rubbish back, leaving the bins as if untouched.


Security is an essential service to contract. The biggest companies are ADT and Chubb which provide alarm monitoring and armed response. Larger apartment blocks will have their own front-desk security, but smaller units will only have security if provided by the body corporate.

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