• Sunday, June 23, 2024
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No wish to be negative, but what are electricity companies doing?

Why Transcorp sells electricity outside Nigeria

Electricity matters. In Nigeria it matters more than any other issue for business and consumers. It is intimately related to the growth of business activity at all levels of the economy-far more so than the bugbear of crude oil price. That is why the electricity distribution companies, the generating companies and the transmission companies must rethink what they have been doing to provide adequate and safe electricity to Nigerians, why they have been doing nothing new and whether there are ways they could do it better.

At the moment they all seem like a bunch of directionless gaggle, irresolute in devising functional and tactical approach to fulfill their business plans towards a steady growth of the electricity sector. There is nothing in the conversation that is reassuring, especially knowing that all of them are still grappling with revenue challenges and debt refinancing hurdles.

Let’s remind ourselves that when the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, was sold to them in bits and pieces, they took over speaking in the language businesses and consumers wanted to hear. They promised changes, to quickly transform the sector, to make repairs and replace infrastructure, deploy transformers for distribution and help in the process to stimulate growth particularly, of the very small businesses that for decades were handicapped.

Read also: For 30 years, Lagos has been wasting N350m daily on generators, validates need for thriving electricity market

The sale in 2013 is, probably, the biggest public sector reform the country has ever undertaken or witnessed. The speed and clarity of the process filled an emotional space for consumers who were always without hope.

That hope is still consumed in doubt. Light has remained consumer’s horror movie. Electricity supply is not what it was, it has in some places gone worse.

The laughable part of it is the ‘trading blame’ that has become the trademark of the distribution companies and the transmission company on who is responsible for the continued irregular electricity supply.

I doubt if these entities have ever revisited their transformation document since they signed up to buying the companies. If they have, then I guess we should have some semblance of electricity in the country by now. Just like every other Nigerian, I see no sign of capital expenditure planning, none of process review or performance improvement plans. These elements are key factors in achieving any measure of success.

The distribution companies are not in the news for dealing with the key start up and operational issues such as the injection substations, conductors, poles or distribution substation transformers upgrades. What you hear so frequently are the introduction of frivolous fixed charges, crazy bills, akin to the type frequently dished out during the era of ‘NEPA’. You will not hear talk of network issues such as the undersized conductors, untreated wooden cross arms, poles. Thes infrastructure is still in the shape they were met.

Their payment system is hopelessly flawed-customers are never immediately credited with their payments, leaving room for their ‘ladder carrying touts’ to continue the rent seeking habit of the old ‘NEPA’. Nothing is ever given back to the consumer.

People who know, at the onset, provided key proactive steps to follow in tackling the transition and transformation issues. Much of these revolve around internal process reviews-asset review, asset strategy and planning, energy balance study, vigilance balance study, vigilance tools and measures as well as smart meters-perhaps they all should go to school at PwC for further coaching on these key steps.

You do not need to be a spy to know that these clowns (the electricity companies) are failing, and that it is now so discomforting to believe that Nigeria will ever have light.

They have muttered and uttered the epithet ‘financing challenges’ with the frequency of an incompetent CEO in a dying company long enough to create the impression that the sale of ‘NEPA’ was devised and largely executed by dishonest Nigerian leaders.

Fortunately, this is not true.