The Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) have decried a monthly loss of over N30 billion revenue to electricity theft, and called for appropriate legislation to check the act.
According to a statement issued by Mr Sunday Oduntan, Executive Secretary, Research and Advocacy, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), the losses results from the large number of customers, engaged in energy theft, meter bypass, vandalism and unpaid electricity bills.
Oduntan explained that over 40% of electricity consumers do not pay their electricity bills, as they indulge in illegal connection of electricity.
According to NAN, DisCo operators attributed the challenges to form the major part of the DisCos’ Aggregate Technical, Commercial and Collection (ATC&C) losses, and called for effective legislation against them.
“There is need for effective legislation by the National Assembly to checkmate energy theft in the country as the practice is costing the power sector billions of naira monthly.
“The power sector is currently grappling with a liquidity shortfall of over N1.5 trillion occasioned by a combination of adverse conditions among which is the high rate of energy theft,” he said.
Oduntan said that in the presentation by the Discos during, they showed an instance where out of N27.7 billion that was billed for energy consumed in 2019 by unmetered customers, only N5.2 billion was recovered.
With each Disco losing an approximate of N3 billion monthly, the total loss from 11 Discos puts the loss at over N33 billion, he explained.
“The sector cannot continue like this. There is no sector in the world where criminal acts affecting critical sectors are not given special treatment. Until people know that there are penalties for the specific crime of energy theft, this is not going to stop, “Oduntan said.
To reduce these incidences and ensure greater transparency, the companies are working hard to ensure availability of meters. However, this move has to be complemented by specific legislation because of incidences of meter bypass.
“There is a mindset that stealing electricity is okay and that needs to be corrected through the enactment of appropriate legislation,” Oduntan said.
The DisCos were collaborating with security agencies and the judiciary toward enforcing actions that could deter energy theft.