The Northern Electricity Distribution Company Limited (NEDCo) loses as high as 45 percent of the monthly power it sells to consumers in the Northern Operational Area – Northern and Savannah Regions and some parts of Oti Region, mainly due to power theft.
The company’s monthly revenue from the Northern Area is about GH¢24million but could have been higher if not for power theft. It also means that more than GH¢10million is lost monthly, which amounts to over GH¢120million a year.
The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), the utilities regulator, allows for a lost margin of 22 percent for power utilities. NEDCo ended 2021 with total losses at 27 percent.
Manager, Technical Audit of NEDCo, Ing. John Yamoah, who made the revelations during a media workshop, added that losses in Tamale stand out among the rest at 48 percent.
NEDCo, which recorded GH¢884million in total revenue in 2021, lamented that the huge monthly losses make it difficult to invest into new equipment and infrastructure needed to ensure quality and reliable electricity supply within its jurisdiction.
Earlier this year, NEDCo, a subsidiary of the Volta River Authority, in its justification for improved tariffs to utilities regulator, submitted that apart from inadequate revenue from tariffs, it was confronted by high losses due to power theft, faulty metres and unbilled customers, which it said was particularly high in the Northern Area, comprising Northern and Savannah Regions and some parts of Oti Region.
Meanwhile, non-payment by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), standing at GH¢1billion at the end of 2021, and lack of metering for streetlighting and others, were among the challenges captured in its proposal to the regulator.
To ensure supply of quality and reliable electricity, it is estimated that NEDCo requires GH¢8billion, approximately US$844million to modernise its infrastructure.
Ing. Yamoah said these losses make it difficult for the company to effectively deliver on its mandate.
NEDCo’s Managing Director, Osmani Ayuba, said he was deeply worried about power theft and its implications for his outfit and reliable electricity supply.
“Power is so critical that I don’t need to talk much about it. Without power, we cannot do anything,” he said, adding: “But we do not get the power for free. We actually buy from VRA, so we need money to continue to buy the power; we need money to buy the metres for you; we need money to buy poles to replace the broken ones; we need money to buy the transformers that have blown; and we need money to work on the network.
“Unfortunately, we are in an environment where power theft is very high.”
In the recent past, NEDCo’s attempt to retrieve revenue due it or curb power theft or illegal power connection has resulted in deadly clashes with consumers.
“Our staff suffer a lot in the field of work; they go to check on illegal connections and end up being physically assaulted by offenders. So it’s really strenuous for us to work. We need to have a very nice environment for us to do our legitimate job and continue to provide you with the quality power supply that you need to do your businesses and handle other things.”
It was organised by NEDCo and the Northern branch of Ghana Journalist Association (GJA).
The aim of the event was to build the capacity of media practitioners, as well as bringing them up to date with the operations and challenges of NEDCo.
For his part, the Northern Regional Chairman of GJA, Yakubu Abdul Majeed, assured of journalists readiness to support the company to eradicate power theft in the area.