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Tackling electricity crimes will help develop the sector

A major objective of the President’s Recovery Priorities, is doubling access to energy by June 2017. A new inter-ministerial agreement will help tackle the widespread theft of electricity that is robbing the country of billions of Leones each year – revenue that could be used for developing the sector.

Following a concept note produced by the President’s Delivery Team, which highlighted the high spate of electricity-related crimes and their negative impact on customers and revenue, the Inter-Ministerial Framework Agreement on Tackling Electricity Crimes was signed on 17 August 2016 by the Ministries of Energy, Internal Affairs and Justice, the Office of the Attorney General and the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Crimes such as tampering with meters and power lines, stealing cables and damaging equipment do not just cost the energy sector money. They can lead to injury and death. They cause the system to either overload or load shed (when electric power shuts off in part or parts of the power-distribution system) – both of which can cause household fires and serious damage to machinery.

Ambassador Henry Macauley, Minister of Energy says that the framework agreement recognises and commits the parties to work on a joint strategy to tackle the problem: “Everyone pays for electricity crimes. They cause higher prices so that honest customers end up paying for the stolen power, parts and equipment. Electricity crimes lead to technical problems that slow down production, and damage machinery and appliances, effectively impeding the growth and efficiency of all sectors of our economy. Electricity crimes are also illegal and the new Inter-Ministerial Framework Agreement commits to expediting the prosecution of all civil and criminal matters relating to electricity.”

Other goals shared by the parties to the new Inter-Ministerial Framework Agreement include increasing the customer base of the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (“EDSA”) through the prevention of illegal connections; enforcing the protection of generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure and equipment from theft and sabotage; supporting the entry of international electricity projects and public and private sector electricity companies in the energy sector in Sierra Leone; and helping protect people from electricity related injuries.

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