Press Release: Renewable energy giving light and warmth to poor South Africans

6 June 2013

Cape Town – A range of new renewable and efficient energy products designed specifically for low-income households is helping many South Africans to keep the lights on and fight the winter cold, despite rising energy prices and the threat of load-shedding.

A recent study by the Department of Energy found that more than 35% of South African households use nothing but blankets and extra clothing to stay warm during winter months; in the Western Cape, this figure is as high as 51%.

This is hardly surprising given the fact that electricity tariffs are set to continue increasing at levels above inflation, and that the cost of alternative energy sources, such as paraffin and LPG, is being pushed up by crude oil prices exceeding $100 per barrel.

Many poor households face the additional winter threat of devastating and potentially life-threatening shack fires – adding to an already unbearable energy burden.

Affordable and safe alternative technologies are however available – but access is limited.

“We know that renewable energy and energy efficient technologies work; the challenge is to get these products to the people that need them the most” says Robert Aitken, managing director of Restio Energy. The company finds and distributes household energy products designed specifically for low-income users.

In the past 12 months, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform distributed more than 1700 Household Energy Kits to rural households throughout the country. Each kit consists of an efficient wood- and charcoal rocket stove, a solar-powered LED lamp and cellphone charger, as well as a heat-retention cooker bag.

Restio Energy also partnered with PlaNet Finance, a micro-finance organisation, and The Business Place, a business training academy, to establish a township-based energy business called EnerGcare. Working through a network of independent sales agents, EnerGcare distributes renewable and efficient energy products to township residents in the Western Cape and Gauteng.

Thabo Tsobane, EnerGcare manager, explains the initiative’s approach: “Townships lack the appropriate retail infrastructure and have limited awareness of these products. That is why we are using a direct sales approach where people can actually touch the products and see how they work.”

EnerGcare agents are currently operating in Khayelitsha, Alexandra and Soweto; and the initiative is set to expand to additional areas in the next few months.


Supervision Consultant: Kigoma PV Programme

Date: 2012 – 2013

Client: Millennium Challenge Corporation

Location: Tanzania

Outcome: Restio Energy has been contracted to assist with the Supervision of the Kigoma PV programme. The programme is an SSMP-type initiative with a base-load of PV installations at public facilities such as schools, clinics and village markets as well Beach Management Units. The initiative contains a strong household sector focus as well. Restio Energy is to ensure that the Contractor fulfills both the letter and spirit of the contract on behalf of the client.

Siyacenda Africa Relief

A number of non-governmental and aid relief organisations have started to roll out the StoveTec/EcoZoom stoves to their beneficiaries. One such partnership has been with Siyanceda Africa Relief who, through funding from donors and the public, distributed the StoveTec stoves to hundreds of families in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape province as part of their Winter 2011 Project.

In 2011, the Siyanceda team distributed the award-winning stove to those in need by teaming up with various churches and organisations around the Eastern-Cape. In doing so, the EcoZoom stove changed nearly 300 family’s lives by ensuring that they save money with every meal cooked and keeping them warm. The people were amazed that they can cook their meals without having to buy paraffin and delighted that the stove also acts as a heater during the cold, winter months.

With the great success of the project, Siyanceda Africa and Restio Energy yet again made the winter2012  season easier for hundreds of South Africa’s poorest communities by giving them an EcoZoom stove.

For more information about Siyanceda and the exceptional work they do, kindly visit


Siyanceda Stove Ad


“I use to walk a long distance everyday to collect firewood to cook.  Since I use the stove, I only walk once a week now because the stove uses less wood.” Elderly woman

“This stove is saving me lots of money because I don’t have to buy paraffin any more to cook my food.  Now I have more money to buy smokes.” Elderly man

“I love this new stove, it uses less wood and there is also less smoke.  It cooks my food quicker and it is safe to use.  Even now that I sit here, I’ve put my food on to cook, and I know it will be ready when I get home. ” Elderly woman


The World Bank: Biomass Energy Initiative for Africa (BEIA)

Restio Energy is receiving support from the World Bank to develop markets for efficient biomass stoves in rural South Africa. Working with the off-grid concession utilities in three of the country’s most unelectrified provinces, the initiative aims to create a sustainable market that will directly benefit South Africa’s more than 2 million wood-using households.


Restio Energy is proud to be working with The Business Place and PlaNet Finance as part of EnerGCare. The Business Place is a entrepreneur support NGO with branches throughout South Africa and PlaNet Finance an international micro-finance NGO. EnerGcare creates social enterprises that sell clean energy products to low-income households into the informal settlements around Cape Town and in Gauteng. EnerGcare is based on an entrepreneur-based business model with 30 agents active in Cape Town and Gauteng. Agents sell a range of clean energy products from EcoZoom efficient cook stoves to solar LED lighting.

For more information, please contact us: or +2721 850 0771

Image Gallery

*Click images to enlarge