By: Austine Luseni
Investment in electricity is currently at the top of the New Direction’s spending list. President Julius Maada Bio promised a revolution in the energy domain, and since he assumed the mantle of leadership, every effort aimed at revolutionizing the energy sector has not been spared. The energy revolution and search for a lasting solution to the country’s long-standing grid problems continues.
The minister of energy, Alhaji Kanja Sesay and his deputy Dr Eldred Taylor, have been a pair well-matched. The two, together with their dedicated staff, are on a mission to transform the energy landscape of Sierra Leone. Amid the daunting challenges bequeathed to them by the previous administration, strides are being made.
Various energy projects, ranging from the successful renegotiation with the Karpowership, the solarization of rural communities, the implementation of renewable energy schemes, the West African Power Pool Project and the coordination of agencies and human resource efforts have been at the heart of an impressive reformist agenda in the sector.
EDSA, the country’s electricity distribution and supply authority has its work clearly cut out. The utility distributes and or supplies electricity which it buys from a generation agency to industrial or residential customers. The grid , especially in Freetown, continues to expand with the opening up of new settlements and the corresponding explosion in population. EDSA however, commendably continues to evolve to square off to this challenge and the ever-changing demand for electricity.
But EDSA faces huge challenges or bottlenecks in its quest to ensure quality and reliable service delivery. Its revenue generation capacity is consistently hampered by the issue of industrial and residential electricity theft. Through this unholy scheme, the distributor loses billions in revenue, making it find it difficult to even sometimes run at break even.
Companies and residences have perfected the criminal act of making illegal connections to the grid. Such acts involve bypassing the legal means of access to electricity through direct connections to avoid pre-paid meters register any consumption rate. Heavy industrial plants or machines and domestic electrical appliances are made to consume electricity through this illegal scheme. EDSA becomes the greatest loser in all of this. This criminal scheme is now rampant and growing.
The Ministry of Energy and EDSA have however not been sleeping on duty. Some four months ago, the minister of energy struck a partnership with the country’s anti-corruption commission aimed at curbing electricity theft. Weeks after that landmark deal was struck, combined raids were made on industrial companies and those raids churned out scary revelations of massive electricity theft.
Also, the minister and his team are taking giant strides to address this cancer in the sector. An independent contractor has been contracted so as to help the ministry expose these wrongdoings or criminal activities. It is therefore expected and advised that the public desist or refrain from engaging in this illegal business as the minister is poised to deal with anyone caught in the act within the confines of the law.
It therefore goes without saying that electricity theft through illegal industrial and residential connections and corruption in the sector account for the huge revenue loss for EDSA. The authority is however committed to correcting these anomalies with a view to providing reliable electricity for all.