Liberian President George Weah. Picture: Reuters/Carlo Allegri

JOHANNESBURG – As South Africans continue to struggle with electricity load shedding it’s probably of little comfort that formerly war-torn and poor Liberia is struggling with a similar issue to South Africa which is renowned for being the continent’s powerhouse.

About 60 percent of the electricity generated in Liberia annually is being stolen by people making illegal connections to their homes and businesses, the state-owned power utility said.

The theft causes annual losses of about $35m (R485 mn) to Liberia the BBC reported the country’s Electricity Corporation officials as telling state radio.

This shortage of cash has crippled the utility’s ability to extend its power supply as the country attempts to rebuild its power supply, largely destroyed during its civil war which lasted from 1989 to 2003.

So the US is stepping in and providing financial and technical aid to the West African state to increase connectivity, as part of its Power Africa initiative launched by former US President Barack Obama to bring electricity to 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020.

However, less than 20 percent of residents in the capital Monrovia have electricity while country-wide the figure for those connected to the grid stands at 12 percent – one of the lowest access rates in the world.

The government has set itself the target of rolling out electricity to 70 percent of Monrovia's population of more than one million by 2030.

African News Agency (ANA)