In West Africa, the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) in Nigeria has recorded a total $780 million revenue loss per month due to electricity theft and vandalism, Business News reported.

This equates to an estimated seven million kWh power loss.

On Friday, during a consumer’s forum, the head of PHED’s revenue protection department, Nsika Udi, said that the direct tapping of energy, besides meter bypass, illegal connection, and fraud in billing, accounted for 80% of power theft.

Port Harcourt tackles non-compliant consumers

According to Udi, the revenue loss is not a direct result of explicit acts of crime, but it is also due to the fact that billed consumers refuse to pay their bills.

According to him, 60% of customers do not pay their bills/vending, noting that the development resulted in the company losing over 30MW, an equivalent of N2bn ($6 million) average monthly.

He added that 10% of prepaid customers had not vended since they had been connected and 43.53% of the prepaid customers last vended over six months ago, Business News reported.

“The most critical challenge facing the distribution sector is how to reduce the technical, commercial and collection losses.

“We lose 7,581,289.63kWh or N238,333,002 ($780,781) from direct energy theft alone. Non-payment of bills/vending accounts for over 60% of the monthly aggregate technical, commercial and collection losses and this amounts to 30MW or N2bn ($6 million) average monthly losses.”

Udi added: “We also noted that 10% [of] prepaid customers had never vended since they were connected over three months ago while 43.53% of prepaid customers last vended over six months ago. And we have also recorded 27.32% bypass from 571 prepaid meters audited during ‘plug the bleeding’ initiatives.”

Calling for community support

Should consumers see any persons working on power infrastructure in their respective neighbourhoods, Udi has requested that they demand to see identification.

Consumers pointed fingers at the power company for failing to provide energy, saying that it was their officials and contractors that motivated the defrauding of the consumers and the organisation, media said.

According to State chairman of the Trade Union Congress, Akamba Awah, mass retrenchment of former PHED employees might have been responsible for direct and indirect tapping of power, thus resulting in colossal loss to the company.