Recently, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO), Jamil Isyaku Gwamna unveiled some of the fundamental reforms and strategies deployed in the past six years, when he took over the ownership and management of the company, currently rated as the best customer service provider in the electricity distribution chain in the country. He spoke with ADEOLA AJAKAIYE. Excerpts:
Could you please share some of the strategies that led the growth of your company in the past six years?
When a child is born, the expectation from everyone is growth. As a company, we have huge expectations from our customers in the area of growth and improvement. We always strive to meet up with the demands and expectations. Over the years, such ideas have propelled us into having innovative growth; that has given more happiness to our numerous customers across board. This is not just KEDCO; it’s about supporting the Federal Government to ensure that whatever efforts they put into the power sector trickles down to the ordinary citizen through efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery. We are not where we were years back and in few years to come we would have improved tremendously given the reforms we are putting in place now.
How optimistic are you that all these reforms would culminate in an improved power supply in the Northern Nigeria?
We don’t just carry out reforms in the name of reforms. We embarked on a feasibility study and have seen the prospect of such reforms based on its potency to address the issues of complaints raised by our customers. We often measure our improvement with the demands of our customers. I can tell you today that with the constant improvement in network and provision of more equipment and maintenance of old ones, we are recording a reduction in the number of complaints from customers across our franchise areas.
What other strategies are being deployed to reduce customers’ complaints?
Aside the massive expansion in network and other equipment, we have also been sensitising the people on measures to take in channelling their complaints to us for proper attention. Many customers who have complaints and do not know where and how to get their complaints to us are now aware of the various means to get our attention and response. Our Corporate Communication Unit runs several special programmes on local media outlets on weekly, monthly and yearly basis and that has given enough enlightenment and we are glad it is working. We have also made attempts to bring down complaints by addressing the problem of meter distribution and installations across our franchise areas.
Of recent, your company floated what was tagged ‘MAP scheme’ in KEDCO franchise areas; what was the scheme all about?
The MAP scheme as we know it was floated as a result of a directive from Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission’s (NERC) to help reduce complaints and ensure estimated billing system is put to an end. So far, we have done very well having started the scheme few months back and the response has been impressive in a way because it has succeeded in ending the wait by our customers. This is the way forward and that is why we are giving all we have to ensure that the meters get to our wonderful customers. With these meters, it will be a win-win scenario for the power sector as customers will now get value for their money while the DisCos will get their money without being owed several billions of naira by customers. So, the payment system will be better improved upon with the MAP policy of the Federal Government. The MAP scheme is the way forward and we are embracing the future in KEDCO. We have distributed thousands of meters and installed them and we will continue until the NERC policy is achieved.
What about the regulations and several rules in the power sector franchise; how is KEDCO faring in that regard?
Power is expensive and that’s a fact world over. The franchise of electricity from generation to transmission to distribution is capital intensive and that’s why when you spend so much in that regard, the improvement seems to be minimal but steadily; this administration is giving hope to the sector. Because of this fact, there are regulations and rules to guide the sector to avoid any lapse. KEDCO as an organisation, I can confidently tell you, is very law abiding and that is why we have been able to survive all this while. Since we are one amongst the many stakeholders in the sector, we must play our role well by obeying the rules and regulation that guide the sector because, the sector is like a chain reaction which when you fail to play your role, it has several ways of affecting other stakeholders. This is why we often strive to ensure we keep up with our responsibilities and over time we have really done greatly in that regard. This is one of the reasons we often appeal to our numerous customers to always pay their bills so we can sustain our own part of the obligations which we are ever willing to perform.
How has the power sector, especially in your franchise area, fared under this administration?
Well, we have seen from the previous administrations and now, how the sector has fared? We all live in this country and can attest to it that there have been lots of efforts by the present administration to prioritise power and see that the economy gets the needed improvement using the power sector to grow the manufacturing sector and other agro-allied industries. For us here, we have witnessed improvement in supply and infrastructural investment from the Federal Government. The recent effort to secure more power for KEDCO franchise areas from Kaduna and Calabar is an evidence of the FG’s goodwill in the power sector. With this administration, we are getting the needed attention and micro industries are springing up in Kano and other states. This is impressive and commendable.
Your company has being introducing some initiatives in form of monthly reward and recognition award; what is the motive behind the decision?
Every good businessman or woman you see must ensure that the interest of the staff is well protected and effort made to make the staff feel more like the owner and not just a staff or worker, if you really see growth as your goal. For us in KEDCO, our secret is our staff. We work as a team and I can tell you that I have the best of staff who can deliver the good news in business at any time. This is why the company tries to motivate them to boost performance and give a sense of belonging. I don’t want to reveal all our secrets but the major thing is that in KEDCO we value our staff and they know; that’s why we have those strategies in place to encourage them.
Could you please share the vision of your company in the year 2020, with us?
In any year or even in ten years from now, our vision will remain constant and that is to satisfy our customers. We derive our own satisfaction as a company from the satisfaction of our customers. Everything we do is to meet their demand and the demand of other stakeholders in the generation and transmission sectors for the overall good of the power sector in the country. In 2020, we want to have zero complaints from all our stakeholders.
What are the major challenges confronting your company, presently?
We are, like I said earlier, in business to ensure that we play our own part in the chain-like reaction kind of partnership to ensure that everyone goes home happily. In that regard, our major challenge has been the non-payment of bills by some customers. Money is business and business is money. If we get our money in full and in time, service delivery will be on automated motivation mood; so the attitude of some customers in not being willing to pay their bills or when they pay, they pay below their bills, maybe, say 30 percent or so, is really an issue for us. Other challenges that we have are vandalism, power theft, and illegal connections.
What is your message to customers?
Simple! They own KEDCO because whatever we do is for their good and when we ask them to pay or support KEDCO we are only asking them to help us to serve them better. So, to all our customers, we say thank you and we assure them of improved service delivery.