Electricity was publicly used in South Africa for the first time with the opening of the electric telegraph line between Cape Town and Simon's Town on 25 April 1860. It was built for the benefit of shipping and commerce.
The discovery of gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886 led to Johannesburg installing it's first electric lighting plant in 1889. This electrical power was generated by gas engines. An electricity reticulation system followed in 1891. Municipal electricity supplies started in Rondebosch in 1892, Cape Town city centre in 1895, Durban in 1897, Pietermaritzburg in 1898, East London in 1899, Bloemfontein and Kimberley in 1900 and Port Elizabeth in 1906.