MASERU — The Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) has applied to the Lesotho Electricity Authority (LEA) seeking permission to hike tariffs by between 14 and 17 percent.
LEA chief executive officer, Batalatsang Kanetsi, told the Sunday Express that a decision on the tariff hike will be announced on April 29 after consultations with relevant stakeholders.
“We have to conduct consultations with the public to hear their concerns on the request to increase tariffs,” he said.
“However, a decision will be made after the applicant and the public have made their presentations.”
The proposed tariff hike will likely trigger a spate of price increases for consumer goods across the board as businesses respond to the electricity tariff increase.
Kanetsi said the LEA board will meet later this month to decide on the tariff increase, adding that an announcement will be made to the public in due course.
“We would like to encourage all stakeholders and the public to actively participate in this (consultative) process through writing and attending public meetings,” he said.
The LEA’s main responsibility is to regulate electricity utilities involved in the generation, transmission and supply of electricity while the LEC holds the composite licence allowing it to transmit, distribute and supply electricity.
The LEC is the sole electricity supplier in the country.
Lesotho’s electrification level currently stands at 20.4 percent.
The government has however set a target of at least 35 percent electrification by 2015 and 40 percent by 2020.
Lesotho gets the bulk of its electricity from ‘Muela hydropower station.
It also imports power from Eskom in South Africa and from Electricidade de Mozambique of Mozambique.
“Nevertheless the government is making a lot of effort to ensure that there is enough electricity to meet the demand in the country,” Kanetsi said.
In its annual report for 2008-09, the LEA said a total of 10 245 new connections were made last year which was a 16.1 percent decrease from the previous year’s figure of 12 215.
The new connections saw the LEC’s customer base balloon to 77 090.
“This translates to 18.6 percent of Lesotho households connected to grid electricity,” said the report.
“General purpose customers amounted to 6 650 and if this figure is added to that for domestic customers, the electrification level stood at 20.4 percent.”
LEA economics director, Thuso Ntlama, said there has been an average of 10 000 new connections for the past three years.
“On an annual basis the number of connections has been increasing but most of the connections were mainly in the lowlands,” Ntlama said.