7 December 2012

Tanzania: TANESCO Instal Smart Meters to Curb Theft

SMART meters which are directly monitored by Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) billing section at its headquarters have been installed at all large scale power consumers in the country to curb thefts.

Tanesco Board of Directors Chairman, General (retired) Robert Mboma said in Dar es Salaam that most of the thieving large scale energy consumers have been tamed thanks to the advanced technology.

"The smart meter is basically fitted on an electric pole supplying such premises and is directly monitored from Tanesco headquarters billing section," said Mr Mboma whose board has taken a number of measures to address large scale thefts of power by consumers. The exercise started over six months ago.

Mboma was responding to 'Daily News' questions regarding reports that several large scale power thieves in Dar es Salaam who had an accumulated bill of over 1.8bn/- per month remain on rampage while petty thieves are being paraded on television stations regularly.

'Daily News' sources said Ministry of Energy and Minerals has directed Tanesco board and management to tame spiralling leakages which reached close to 20 per cent per month by last June. "Our investigations established that most of the industries in Dar es Salaam, commercial premises in Kariakoo and city centre don't pay electricity bills," said Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Eliakim Maswi.

Mr Maswi however could not give details saying power utility giant, Tanesco has been directed to tighten the noose against thieving large scale clients. "We want to see large scale power users who don't pay their bills arrested and prosecuted," pointed Maswi whose pairing with Minister for Energy and Minerals, Professor Sospter Muhongo has ended artificial power rationing and revenue loss at Tanesco this year.

"The government cannot continue to pump money in Tanesco without understanding how the company spends its monthly collected revenue from consumers," said Prof Muhongo during a recent ceremony to inaugurate a Tanesco gas powered turbine in Dar es Salaam.

'Daily News' investigations have established that leading manufacturers in Mikocheni Light Industrial area, a newly established popular media house and major insurance firm are among big time thieves of power.

"I know that the manufacturer has since requested use of natural gas to reduce his electric bill which peaked over 800m/- a month," said Mboma who warned power thieves that the worst is yet to come as Tanesco close in the culprits who apart from being booked, will also be blacklisted.

Tanesco which until last May collected 29bn/- in revenue per month while paying close to 26bn/- to Songas Limited, Independent Power Tanzania Limited, Orca Exploration, Symbion Power and several other small scale independent power producers, is struggling to clean its books of accounts which are in the red.

In 2010, Tanesco requested for a 155 per cent power tariff increase over the next two years till this year but Energy and Water Utility Regulatory Authority (Ewura) turned down the application and instead granted an 18.5 per cent increase in January 2011 and 13.8 per cent earlier this year.

Prof Muhongo has also promised to tame hiked power tariffs which are blamed on inefficiency, corruption and theft of energy by consumers working in tandem with unfaithful managers at the state utility company.

Since launching the countrywide crackdown against electricity thieves last June, Tanesco has nabbed over 100 large scale clients some of whom were named in parliament during the last budget session by Prof Muhongo while presenting his ministry's budget.

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