The United States (US) Government has expressed its profound displeasure over wanton electricity theft and unpaid bills in Liberia.
US Ambassador to Liberia, Michael McCarthy, is reported to have alleged that the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) has lost $220m (£160m) over the last five years alone because of a cartel stealing electricity and unpaid bills.
America is currently the main donor in Liberia’s energy sector.
African Entertainment understands that about six years ago, the US Government spent over $250m on the rehabilitation of Liberia’s hydroelectric plant.
The hydroelectric plant had been destroyed during Liberia’s 14-year civil war.
According to Mr McCarthy, the Liberian government which is believed to be the main customer of LEC, was often not meeting payment deadlines.
He added that “We have been told by multiple sources that there is a well-organised electricity theft cartel that benefits well-connected businesses and even government officials.”
In continuing, he stated that “We care about the development of Liberia and its people, and corruption and power theft are standing in the way of that development.”
While comparing electricity charges in Liberia to other West African nations, he lamented that Liberia was charging too much for its electricity:
Ghana: $0.06 per kilowatt hour
Guinea: $0.10 per kilowatt hour
Ivory Coast: $0.12 per kilowatt hour
Liberia: $0.49 per kilowatt hour (and until fairly recently $0.54).
He could not fathom “Why are Liberians paying four or five times more for less reliable electricity?”
According to him, “The answer is because for each person that illegally connects to a powerline – they are making everyone else underwrite the cost of power and making it harder to reduce the cost for those who pay.”