Mozambique’s Power Grid Under Attack: How Vandals Are Sabotaging the Country’s Energy Supply

Criminals target power infrastructure, causing millions of dollars in losses and leaving thousands of people in the dark.

by Motoni Olodun

Mozambique is facing a serious threat to its electricity supply as criminals target its power infrastructure, causing millions of dollars in losses and leaving thousands of people in the dark.

According to the state-owned electricity company, EDM, the company has recorded an accumulated loss of 30 million meticais (about 470,000 dollars, at the current exchange rate) during 2023, as a result of damage to equipment by vandals across the country. Among the vandalized equipment are electrical cables and transformers, which are stripped of metals, particularly copper and aluminum, and sold to scrap metal merchants, sometimes across the border in South Africa.

The chairperson of the EDM board of directors, Marcelino Alberto, said that this was a concern not only for the company but also for society as a whole, “since there are frequent cases of neighborhoods being deprived of power for several days because of vandalized electricity cables”. In extreme cases, he said, the theft of electricity cables has resulted in deaths by electrocution.

Alberto also said that the replacement of vandalized infrastructure uses resources that could be used to expand the electricity grid in other regions of the country. He said that the company’s goal of achieving universal access to electricity by 2030 was being jeopardized by the criminal acts.

Mozambique is not the only country in Africa that suffers from electricity theft and vandalism. According to a report by the African Development Bank, the continent loses about 1.5 billion dollars annually due to these practices, which affect both the quality and the quantity of power supply. The report also estimates that about 600 million people in Africa lack access to electricity and that the continent needs to invest at least 120 billion dollars per year until 2025 to close the energy gap.

The Mozambican government has been taking measures to combat the problem of electricity theft and vandalism, such as increasing the penalties for offenders, strengthening the security of power facilities, and raising awareness among the public about the dangers and consequences of these acts. The government has also been investing in renewable energy sources, such as solar and hydro, to diversify and increase the country’s power generation capacity.

Despite the challenges, Mozambique has made significant progress in expanding its electricity network in recent years. According to EDM, the company has connected over 390,000 new customers in 2023, exceeding its target by 11.4%. The company also said that it has reduced its energy losses by two percent, thanks to improved efficiency and management.

Mozambique has the potential to become a major energy producer and exporter in Africa, as it has abundant natural resources, such as gas, coal, and hydropower. The country is also part of the Southern African Power Pool, which aims to create a regional electricity market and enhance cross-border power trade. With the right policies and investments, Mozambique can overcome the current challenges and achieve its vision of providing reliable and affordable electricity to all its citizens.

Source: Club of Mozambique

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