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Editorial by B&FT: Power theft causes astronomical losses for power generators

Power 1122x570 NEDCo owes its parent company, the VRA, GH¢1.6billion for power purchased

Tue, 18 Apr 2023 Source:

Is it not ironic that the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo), a subsidiary of the Volta River Authority (VRA), spends GH¢120million every month to make electricity available for consumers and yet NEDCo was owed about GH¢1.2billion by consumers as at January 2023?

Additionally, NEDCo owes its parent company, the VRA, GH¢1.6billion for power purchased but is only able to recoup GH¢85million monthly due to power theft and non-payment by consumers.

In fact, the scale of power theft identified so far in the company’s ongoing debt recovery exercise is huge and frightening. Indeed, several illegalities have been discovered by the ECG team on their revenue mobilisation drive to recover a GH₵5.7billion debt in recent times.

NEDCo distributes electricity to consumers in the Northern, North-East, Savannah, Upper East and Upper West Regions, as well as part of Ashanti, Bono, Ahafo and Oti Regions – and makes monthly losses of over GH¢35million.

To make matters worse, the electricity distributor is also indebted to the state-owned power transmitter Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) to the tune of GH¢48million.

This development raises questions about the long-term sustainability of NEDCo, as the huge monthly losses are making it difficult for the company to replace obsolete equipment and undertake major repair and maintenance work in order to improve on service delivery.

Corporate Communication Manager at NEDCo, Maxwell Kotoka, indicated that his outfit has started a revenue mobilisation exercise to recoup funds owed the company and weed out illegal power connections or power theft.

The exercise will cover all categories of customers within NEDCO’s jurisdiction – including state-owned enterprises (SOEs); ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs); and metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs).

We are pleased that the electricity distributor is making efforts to recoup outstanding debts; however, staff of NEDCo are often attacked by some residents when doing their rounds. We urge the police administration to avail officers to accompany these staff to prevent them from being assaulted and manhandled.

Some of the illegalities include meter-bypass, meter-tampering and direct connections. The sophistication of illegal connections shows that culprits have resolved to not pay for the power they use; and this is wrong and immoral.

However, it is refreshing to learn that ECG is investing heavily in technology – such as the introduction of smart meters – to help in the early identification of customers who engage in any illegalities.