To a very large extent, potential investors could be put off by electricity theft. This is according to Maboe Maphaka, Energy Trading & Sales Forecasting at Eskom, who spoke to us at the recent African Utility Week.
“The biggest chunk of revenue protection is managing electricity theft be it meter tampering, illegal connections, or data manipulation. Revenue protection is linked to energy protection. Therefore, we need to be able to measure energy correctly in order to protect our revenue,” explains Maphaka.
Eskom’s power loss is currently 7.13% of which technical losses account for 60% to70% and non-technical losses, 30% to 40%. Theft is the main contributor to non-technical losses.
Maphaka points out that foreign investors want to see utilities provide an efficient service and operations. They also need to see that the utility is efficient in attaining revenue. Before investors take an interest, they want to see a reduction in power and financial losses. He explains, “If Eskom reduces its non-technical losses, profitability will increase and then investors will be interested in investing.”
Eskom aims to reduce these non-technical losses via its energy loss management program. The aim is to improve losses by 10% on a yearly basis. To achieve this, various activities will be carried out such as efficient meter audits.
Eskom’s energy loss management plans won’t be driven by technology. Maphaka says that Eskom will be using what they already have since they first need to ensure that they have the necessary staff to handle the new blend of technologies on the way. He says that smart metering technology is definitely on the cards for South Africa.