At a public hearing organised by the Electricity and Water Regulatory Commission (SLEWRC) on Thursday, June 9, investors and other stakeholders in Sierra Leone, have agreed to a purposed electricity tariff increment by the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA), but urged that the authority provides better service to the nation.
The tariff is proposed to increase from $14 cent to $22 cent.
The public hearing was attended by organizations and business institutions including Consumer Protection Agencies, financial institutions, investors, journalists, among several others.
Speaking at the event, Director General of SLEWRC, Dr.Emmanuel Mannah, said in November 2021, they received a request for an increment in electricity tariff and that as a technical regulatory commission, whenever they received tariff application they do ask for a lot of information including documents and reasons as to why they wanted tariff review.
He said based on the commission’s satisfaction of the information provided, they will then call for a public hearing.
He said the proposed electricity rate will be enough for EDSA to buy the energy that is required by consumers.
He said Section 45 (3) of the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission gives the commission the powers to ensure they have such application on rate review, saying that the public should be adequately informed and their concerns listened to through a public hearing and their voices included in the final decision making.
Chairman of SLEWRC,Mohamed B.D. Sesay, said the key mandate of the commission is the setting of tariff for the electricity and water sectors, and that the public hearing was part of the process because it was where EDSA will justify to the public about the need to review the tariff.
Permanent Secretary at the Ministry Energy, Tamba Raymond Gbetuwa, said it has taken over three years without reviewing the energy tariff for obvious reasons, noting that due to the current global increase in fuel prices, they had no option but to approach the Commission to review the tariff for EDSA to enable them deliver effective services to the people of Sierra Leone.
Director of Economic Regulation at SLEWRC, Brima Bah, said the Commission was established by an Act of parliament with the main mandate to regulate the energy and water sectors and the Act gives them the authority to create rules and regulations for the two sectors.
He said in reviewing the tariff, one of the first items they take into consideration is the interest of the consumers because they are very vital in the process, noting that the Commission was in the middle between the consumers and public utility by making sure that the interests of both are taking into account.
He said whenever they were in the process of calculating tariff they take into consideration the cost of delivering the service is very vital, ensuring that those cost are covered for the entity to stay in business.
In his justification for the increment, Chief Finance Officer at EDSA Mustapha Sannoh, opined that prior to 2011, they used to have the National Power Authority NPA that was generating, transmitting, distributing and supplying electricity, but with the enactment of the 2011 Electricity Act, it was unbundled and made way for the creation of the Electricity Generation and Transmission Company in which EDSA is the principal up-taker to distribute, supply and collect revenue from the sales of electricity being a single buyer of power as mandated by the Act of Parliament.
He said the Authority has done some major development over the years in the sector and that they wanted to continue to do more, noting that they were currently challenged in their operations due to current increment of fuel in the world market and the and the exchange rate of the United States Dollars to the Leones.
He said they were buying energy from Karpowership and others in United States Dollars which means they were not making profit at the moment due to the current exchange rate of the US Dollar to the Leones.
The Sierra Leone Electricity and Water Regulatory Commission is established to formulate, implement, monitor quality and compliance, provide tariff guidelines, licenses and implement regulatory frameworks for the safe, secure, affordable and reliable supply of water and electricity in Sierra Leone.