The Somaliland Energy Commission stopped a hike in supply rates that Somaliland electricity providers introduced which represented nearly doubled the rate per kilowatt.
The commission ordered that providers stop billing out customers on rates they unilaterally decided on without explaining why they found it necessary to raise rates by 42%.
The Commission statement questioned the legality of a price hike that came as a result of unlawful consultations among providers that only took their profits and interests into consideration without properly gauging how the move would affect citizens’ lives across the spectrum.
“That providers come together to conspire against subscriber welfare is by itself unlawful and in direct contravention of free-market ethics,” Ahmed Farah Adarre, the Commission Chairman stated in a press conference explaining its order.
Providers raised the rate per kilowatt from $0.3/0.5 to $0.84 across the country without prior notice, and without waiting for consultations the providers had started with the Commission. Some of these providers have been generously supported by the World Bank’s SEIT program in order to make access to electricity accessible to the masses – the exact opposite of the step they have taken.
This comes at a time, the Minister for Finance, Dr Saad Ali Shire, has himself admitted on Thursday at the Ministerial Council meeting that life was becoming harder and more difficult for low-income families with prices of oil and essential food items soaring.
Dr. Saad said the market price for a 25kg bag of rice, sugar, and flour now stood at US$17 each, and that 10 liters of petrol now sold at SlShs 97,000 – more than US$11 in market rates.
Livelihood for the ordinary citizen has so deteriorated to unprecedented levels with the government and opposition leaders having time only for petty squabbles and self-promotion ahead of elections slated for the end of the year. The exchange of acrimonious words and accusations has raised the political tension in the country with supporters, especially in the opposition camp, sometimes threatening a dislodge to the fragile peace and stability that has for long differentiated Somaliland from the rest of the countries in the region.
Since the breakout of the Russian offensive against Ukraine, commodity prices in markets in the Republic of Somaliland and across the region appear to have taken unfair advantage of professed shortages raising prices from one day to the next on an unbroken upward-surging graph.