Commercial electricity losses are still high with a percentage of around 6.5 of the electricity generated in the country and out of which a big percentage emanates from electricity theft. Stealing electricity has been around for a long time across the country.
Most electrical theft crimes occur through meter tampering, bypassing meters, and tapping power lines. Others include tapping into neighboring premises as well as using illegal lines.
Theft of electricity is punishable by the law N°52/2018 of 13/08/2018 modifying Law Nº21/2011 of 23/06/2011 governing electricity in Rwanda as modified to date.
One of REG technicians inspecting the meter during operations in Kigali. / Frederic Byumvuhore
In the move to curb theft of electricity, Rwanda Energy group in partnership with Rwanda National Police and Rwanda Investigation Bureau has intensified inspection operations since last month to ensure that the suspects are caught and punished according to the laws.
Since December last year, 14 districts have already been covered.
On Thursday, Rwanda Energy Group organised a press conference to share the findings from the operations as well as the current status of the issue. The event was held at REG Headquarters in Nyarugenge and it was attended by senior staffs of the entity.
The event followed the recent operation held on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 in different districts across the country for inspection where other suspects were caught on spot.
During the event, Ron Weiss, the Chief Executive Officer of REG and Maj. Eng. Jean Claude Kalisa, Managing Director of EUCL addressed the media how the persistence of the issue that is causing most of the company’s losses, as well as hindering sustainable development of the country.
The findings show that within a two month period, at least 28 customers from 9 different districts were caught red-handed stealing electricity. These include individual households, small businesses, hotels, milling machines, bars, restaurants, and industries.
The amount of electricity stolen by the suspects was evaluated to around Rwf 1.9 billion.
Ron Weiss noted that the country will never tolerate anyone who is caught in illegal activities because the issue is so destructive.
“REG is investing a lot of efforts to improve and increase electricity in the country. We dramatically succeeded in increasing the number of connections. We are committed to find out all the people using electricity in negative ways. We are intensifying regular inspection operations,” he said.
He added that the public needs to understand that stealing electricity is against the law. “From upper levels in the Government, no one can support anything against the law. Everyone caught should be arrested. It is a shame for him, family and friends and he has to be fined.”
According to Maj. Kalisa, He also said that the Government invests much in infrastructure and it is a shame to hear that beneficiaries are destroying themselves what was made for the public interests.
“The issue of electricity theft requires every citizen’s interventions since it affects the general public. The consequences affect the general public as they undermine the country’s development. The more the loss increases, the more it affects our progress and performance,” he added.