The Operation Khanyisa campaign, established under Eskom’s Energy Losses Management Programme with a mandate of fighting electricity theft in South Africa, is approaching the R1bn mark in recovery of revenue and prevention of further energy losses for the national power utility.
The announcement was made by Maboe Maphaka, Senior Manager for Energy Trading and Sales Forecasting at Eskom, during a presentation at the Africa Utility Week conference held at the Cape Town ICC this week.
He revealed how the use of new technology, application of the law and community mobilisation – what he called the triad-factor - worked in tandem to curb electricity theft and prevent energy and revenue losses.
According to Maphaka, Operation Khanyisa, since its launch in 2010, has helped with the recovery of approximately R400m in revenue for Eskom and the protection of a further R500m worth of energy from loss.
Maphaka explained that the revenue recovery came mainly from fines and reconnection fees paid, as well as from revenue recovery charges calculated on the period of time that a customer was found to have not been paying for the electricity. The loss prevention, he said, is derived from the reduction in distribution energy losses, which currently stands at 6.82%, down from 2013’s figure of 7.12% when Eskom lost approximately R4.1bn to electricity theft.
Said Maphaka, “It is no secret that this is a critical time for Eskom with revenue recovery and protection being one of the key priorities for the utility. It is encouraging to see how the approach of combining enforcement, compliance behaviour change, customer education and community mobilisation makes a real impact in driving legal, safe and efficient power usage and help to unlock revenue streams.”
Operation Khanyisa’s partners include Eskom, Crime Line, Proudly South African, Business Against Crime South Africa, Business Unity South Africa and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA.)
In 2013, Eskom’s Energy Losses Management Programme (ELP) took a more stringent approach in the fight against electricity theft when it commenced implementation of a Customer Compliance Approach (CCA,) combining meter auditing, investigation and enforcement, with customer education and awareness in an integrated roll-out targeting hot spot areas with high energy and revenue losses. The CCA is currently being implemented in hot spot areas in the Free State, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West provinces.
The CCA has resulted in the arrest of 58 electricity theft suspects and the opening of 34 cases on the court roll. The approach also led to the clearing of 1.4 million illegal prepaid electricity units from customers’ meters.
Many of these achievements, Maphaka said, would not have been possible without help from members of the public who heeded the call to report electricity theft by sending tip-offs via SMS to 32211.