In East Africa, the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) issued the notice last week due to Zanzibar’s alarming electricity debt, which keeps increasing with no payment put forward.
According to local media the Citizen, the managing director of Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco), Felchesmi Mramba, said the Zanzibar Electricity Corporation (Zeco) has a debt amounting to Sh85 billion ($38 million) that has accumulated over a period of three years.
“We really need urgent assistance in collecting the debts, especially the Zanzibar one, which is so huge and still growing,” Mramba said.
Gov’t contributing to the huge electricity debt
Mramba also noted that other institutions falling under the union government owe the power utility firm Sh40 billion ($18 million).
It is reported that the PAC chairperson, Naghenjwa Kaboyoka, enquired about the kind of measures Tanesco has employed to recover the money.
In response to the probe, Mramba stated that the utility had issued the threat a while back, but the matter was then taken over by the government.
He said: “It was discussed between the union and the Isles governments as a union matter; two meetings have been held and the latest information we have is that Zeco has asked the government of Zanzibar to settle its debt and we are hopeful something will happen soon.”
Different power tariffs
The Tanesco official further explained that the reason why Zeco has such a huge debt as opposed to local power consumers is because of the lower tariff.
“The reason is tariff difference. Zeco is charging lower tariffs compared to Tanesco and that means it is collecting less than we charge them,” he said.
He added: “Tanesco tariffs are set by Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority; in the Isles Zanzibar Utilities Regulatory Authority (Zura) has been established and it will be setting tariffs there.”
In conclusion, Kaboyoka, said: “The committee hereby directs the government to make sure that all the debts are cleared within six months.
“It is high time the government left Tanesco to operate as a business enterprise; it doesn’t make sense to hike electricity bills for ordinary wananchi (ordinary people) while government institutions are accumulating huge debts.”