The Plenary of the Liberian Senate, sitting as a “Committee of a Whole,” chaired by Grand Cape Mount County Senator Simeon B. Taylor, has mandated the authority of the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) to submit to the Senate all relevant documents detailing the debt portfolio of electricity used in Maryland and Grand Gedeh Counties respectively.
The Senate decision was triggered by a hearing on Wednesday February 16, 2022 with heads of the electricity sector with respect to the US$ 9M owed by the Liberian government for use of electricity from the West African Power Pool in Grand Gedeh and Maryland Counties.
The West African Power Pool is a cooperation of the national electricity companies in Western Africa, under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States. The members of WAPP are working to establish a reliable power grid for the region and a common market for electricity. It was founded in 2010.
In his testimony at the hearing, the Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of LEC, Paschal Buckley, informed the Senate that between 2018 and 2019, over 40MW of new primary substation transformers capacity was installed at Capitol, Paynesville, New Kru Town and other parts.
According to the CEO of LEC, the Liberian government is indebted to the Ivorian government in the amount of US$9M.
The CEO also stated that due to ongoing overloading of transformers and historical quality challenges, LEC continues to have transformer failures. Hence, there’s a need to replace them.
The Management of LEC has also admitted that Zwedru City in Grand Gedeh County and Harper City in Maryland County are responding to the payment of their electricity bills.
At the same time, the Management admitted that other cities are not paying their bills due to the lack of financial system to have those connected do payments.
The LEC Management furtherd indicated that customers’ connections increased by 260% growing from 49,763 in January 2018, many of which were illegal and amounted to 129,822 in December 2021 with almost 40,000 added along through Donor Projects in 2021.
This figure continues to grow with plan to increase connections by 50,000 in 2022, the CEO revealed.
For his part, the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Liberia Electricity Regulatory Commission, Dr. Lawrence D. Sikajipo informed the Committee that the only way for LEC to make money and to regulate itself, is to privatize the sector.
According to Dr. Sikajipo, the Liberian Government is indebted to the Ivorian Government in the tone of 9 Million United States Dollars.
He added that the Cross Border Electrification Project was signed into Agreement in 2007 with specific objective of providing electricity for up to 130,000 persons living in the project areas.
He further stated that many Liberians are using the facility without paying any bill, while others continue to live without current.
During the hearing, Grand Gedeh County Senator Zoe Emmanuel Pennue revealed that both Grand Gedeh and Maryland Counties were paying their Electricity Bills with evidence of bank accounts, contrary to information that the two counties were not responding to their responsibilities in terms of settling their bills.