Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 March 2020:
Electricity theft and non-payment of electricity bills by households and businesses, have for far too long been the main cause of poor levels of investments in the sector and the frequent electricity blackouts suffered across the country.
But the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the ministry of energy are now planning to put an end to this scourge, by closely working together. Both organisations met last Friday, and signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate.
Speaking at this historic event which took place at the ACC Head Office in Freetown, the Minister of Energy – Alhaji Kanja Sesay, said the signing of the MoU came about as a result of a series of discussions between the ACC Commissioner and himself, aimed at boosting electricity cost recovery that has proven to be a big challenge for the ministry.
Recognising the work of the ACC in fighting corruption across other public sectors, the minister said he looks forward to the ACC helping to tackle corruption in the energy sector with the same vigour and determination.
“I would like to invite you to pay attention to our own sector because there is a lot of corrupt practices ongoing” the Minister said.
The Energy sector he said is facing many challenges in the area of electricity generation, transmission and distribution; and electricity theft being widespread through illegal connections and diversions.
The ACC Commissioner – Francis Ben Kaifala, said he is delighted at the signing of the MoU, describing it as an important day for the Commission to have a ministry requesting the attention of the ACC to help fight against corruption.
He pledged to collaborate with the energy ministry; and said that electricity is very important to maintaining the livelihood of citizens and the smooth running of businesses in the country.
Revenue generated by the sector, the ACC Czar said, must be accounted for to ensure investments needed to develop the sector, and sustain the continuous supply of electricity.
Francis Ben Kaifala also said that the ACC does not have sector specific technical expertise, but will rely on the ministry of energy to provide such expertise, equipment and resources to work with the Special Sting Operation Squad of the ACC to detect corrupt activities, practices and deliberate failure to pay for electricity consumption especially by large electricity consumers – fishing companies, welding companies, supermarkets, manufacturing factories, etc.
He also said that even though the Commission has limited number of staff, it will try its utmost best to provide a taskforce to address the challenges in the sector, adding that “where there is the will, numbers do not matter”.
The MOU signing ceremony was attended by the Deputy Minister of Energy, the Chairmen of the Board of EGTC and EDSA, the Directors -General of the EGTC, EDSA, various senior staff and stakeholders of the energy sector, and journalists.