MONROVIA, Montserrado – Monie Captan, the CEO of the Millennium Challenge Account Liberia, says the Liberia Electricity Corporation is losing 62 percent of its revenues to power theft, amounting to US$4.26 million monthly.
A press statement dated Thursday, June 27 said Captan, who also serves as an executive member of LEC’s board, made the statement at a USAID-organized development conference in Monrovia.
The figure is an increase from the 2018 figure given by LEC’s former chief executive officer John Ashley, who said the utility company was losing US$35 million annually to power theft – an average of US$2.9 million monthly.
At that time, Ashley said the power theft, coupled with customers’ refusal to pay electricity bills, accounted for 50 percent of commercial losses to the corporation.
“LEC is collecting between US$1.1 to 1.4 million, monthly,” he said.
According to Ashley, the corporation would collect US$47 million annually in revenues if those losses did not exist, which could pave the way for the tariff on electricity to be significantly reduced.
At the development conference last week, Captan told the audience that LEC’s problems are “compounded by the lack of connection materials that limit the corporation’s capacity to expand connections and generate the needed revenue to sustain itself as a viable public utility.”
Despite a rehabilitated Mt. Coffee Hydro Power Plant and a generation capacity of 88 megawatts, transmission and distribution are still limited, Captan said.
“The lack of access to more reliable and affordable electricity is one key constraint to improving the economy of Liberia and reducing poverty,” he noted.
Captan made reference to the Electricity Law of 2015, which created the Liberia Electricity Regulatory Commission. He said the regulatory commission, which would screen and license private companies to provide electricity, could present an opportunity to address the demand gap.
Also speaking at the occasion was Augustus Goanu, the regulatory commission’s executive director, who said the private sector had historically provided more access to electricity than LEC.
“The electricity sector needs to be privatized so that Liberia generates more revenue to ensure effective service delivery,” Goanu said.
He added that “additional connections are expected to be done under the regional power pool, renewable energy, mini-grid, and cross border power supply as additional opportunities for increasing access to electricity in both rural and urban regions.”
Featured photo by Gbatemah Senah