New Electricity Act 2023 Introduces Stricter Penalties for Power Theft and Illegal Connections in Nigeria

The newly enacted Electricity Act 2023 (EA) in Nigeria has ushered in stricter penalties for individuals engaged in power theft, illegal electricity connections, meter tampering, and vandalism of utility infrastructure. Replacing the Electricity Power Reform Act (2005), the new law aims to curb rampant electricity theft and ensure accountability within the power sector.

Under the provisions of the new law, offenders found guilty of power theft or related offenses face harsh penalties, including a conviction of a fine not less than three times the calculated amount for the infraction or a minimum of three years imprisonment, or both. The legislation, encapsulated in Section 208, subsection (1a, b, c) of the EA, targets a range of offenses such as tapping of power, meter tampering, and destruction of electricity meters.

The enactment of the EA comes amid heightened demand for improved electricity services in Nigeria, particularly following a significant increase in electricity tariffs for premium power consumers, which sparked public outcry in recent weeks. With consumers demanding top-notch service from electricity distributors, the government aims to address longstanding issues of power theft and irregular billing practices.

Industry experts estimate that Nigeria loses up to 40 percent of electricity generation to theft, predominantly by unmetered customers who evade payment through illegal connections or justify their actions due to dissatisfaction with estimated billing practices.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has reiterated the importance of addressing customers’ complaints promptly, underscoring the need for efficient service delivery by power distribution companies (Discos). The enforcement of the new Electricity Act is expected to enhance accountability within the power sector, deter power theft, and promote fair billing practices.

As Nigeria continues to grapple with challenges in the power sector, the introduction of stricter penalties under the EA reflects the government’s commitment to reforming the electricity industry and ensuring reliable and sustainable power supply for all citizens.

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