|Staff of NEDCo on a street float|
The Managing Director of the Northern Electricity Distribution Company [NEDCo] John Nuworklu, has congratulated staff for their support for the operationalisation of the company, but beseeched them to embark on a positive change of attitude towards work and ultimately, the customer since that was the only way NEDCo could confidently take its destiny as a company, into its own hands.
For staff who are yet to respond to the aforementioned, he insisted that they cannot and would never succeed working against such values and principles of the company and so the earlier they re-considered their stance, the better it would be for everyone, stressing that there was still an opportunity for them to join the collective effort to fly the flag of NEDCo high and aloft.
Addressing staff of NEDCo from the Upper West, Upper East, Northern and Brong Ahafo Regions who gathered in Tamale, headquarters of NEDCo – to mark the first anniversary celebration of the Company, he noted that it was instructive for staff and management to remind themselves that until NEDCo achieved viability, its quest for full autonomy would continue to remain a mirage and the things staff and management dreamed of doing for themselves to improve their welfare would forever elude them.
NEDCo, a subsidiary of the Volta River Authority (VRA) was formally launched to operationalise and manage energy resources of the country in the Northern sector in 2012. With the vision to become the leading utility for providing electricity distribution services in Ghana and the West African Sub-region, the operationalisation of VRA/NEDCo was part of the Power Sector Reforms started in the 1990s, which followed the establishment and similar operationalisation of the Ghana Grid Company (GRDICo) in 2005 and 2008 respectively.
The intended purpose of the VRA/NEDCo operationalisation was to bring additional resources, from both external and internal sources to supplement VRA’s on-going support of the current Northern Electricity Department (NED) operations, as well as provide it with the right organizational structure to manage its affairs more effectively.
After VRA/NEDCo’s operationalisation, it would be able to deal directly with government and regulators such as the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) on key issues pertaining to its viability and sustainability. In that regard, NEDCo would be eligible to file a tariff submission to PURC separate from what was filed by VRA. NEDCo would also be able to deal directly with multilateral agencies such as the World Bank and more clearly specify its needs and requirements for the successful delivery of its mandate.
Also, internally VRA/NEDCo would have a new organizational structure that would allow it to manage its affairs more directly without recourse or reference to VRA. This should also serve to streamline decision-making in the procurement of its strategic equipment and spares, the construction of needed buildings, and the development of its employees.
VRA/NEDCo, as a subsidiary company of VRA, would continue to receive financial and other required support from VRA until such a time that it becomes a viable and self-sustaining entity.
Under the theme: “Making VRA/NEDCo viable; the importance of Customer Satisfaction” the anniversary celebration was intended to reflect over the achievements chalked so far since the birth of NEDCo last year and the way forward for staff and management.
In terms of customer satisfaction, Mr. Nuworklu stated that NEDCo had not achieved that yet saying, “It is imperative that we comprehensively overhaul our individual and collective efforts and attitudes so as to tailor them towards at the very least, satisfying the customer who is the very reason we exist as a company” he emphasised, adding “Until we satisfy our customers through excellent service delivery, our business can barely survive and that means growth will be alien to us thereby making viability a mirage”.
He also said staff and management reckoned that for VRA/NEDCo to have any real hopes of becoming viable and to eliminate the numerous human errors that created dissatisfaction and frustration for the customer, they now, more than ever before, need Prepayment Meters for all customers. He appealed to staff to seize the opportunity of the anniversary to sensitize the public accordingly and work earnestly to totally eliminate customer complaints and/or frustrations.
Although NEDCo is one year old, it has chalked some few modest achievements. For instance, the preparation of a five-year investment plan aimed at improving efficiency and service delivery. This has served as the base document for engaging donor partners.
Through the Government of Ghana, NEDCo was applying for financing from various Donor Partners such as the French Development Agency (AFD), United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Swiss Economic Corporation and Development (SECO) and the World Bank (WB) to carry out the implementation of the various projects identified by NEDCo in its five-year business plan.
As part of NEDCo’s interaction with the MCC, the USTDA had decided to support NEDCo through a grant to prepare a more detailed and targeted business plan and investment program. The grant amount is four hundred and ten thousand United States dollars (US$410,000). The agreement was signed on December 5, 2012. Requests for Proposal from consultants to provide the assistance had since been evaluated and forwarded to USTDA for their approval.
The IDA of the World Bank was also providing funding towards a consultancy service to support VRA/NEDCo in the front end and preliminary activities involving the technical and economic feasibility studies of the prioritized VRA/NEDCo projects identified under the Ghana Energy Development and Access Project Phase 3 (GEDAP 3).
SECO, on its part, had pledged to support the establishment of VRA/NEDCo’s Project Implementation Unit (PIU) with a grant. Consequently, VRA/NEDCo was preparing a project implementation manual to aid SECO’s decision with its support.
Financing by other DPs such as MCC, USAID and AFD had also expressed their willingness to support the implementation of NEDCo’s projects and were awaiting the completion of the feasibility studies of the proposed projects under GEDAP 3. Also, independent tariff proposals to the PURC had been submitted.
Distribution Network Rehabilitation Project (DNRP): This is an ongoing project which involved upgrading existing conductors and transformers, injecting new transformers and lines and connecting new customers. These were aimed at addressing among others, the poor quality of voltage supply to customers.
NEDCo Supply Improvement and Rehabilitation Project (NSIRP): Divided into two phases, phase 1 of this project that had already been awarded on contract involved the upgrade of the existing 34.5/11.5kV substations at Wa, Dalun and Tamale Airport, and conversion of the supply of power to the Savelugu Township and its environs from 2-wire, 20kV shield wire supply to conventional 3-phase, 34.5kV supply. Phase 2 of the NSIRP that involved the construction of 34kV line from Buipe to Yapei and from Pwalugu to Walewale with the conversion of shield wire schemes to conventional 34kV line would follow soon.
Installation of Existing Prepayment Meters: This project covers installation of 120,000 Prepayment Meters procured under World Bank and VRA funding. These meters were being used to replace faulty and old electro-mechanical meters to enhance revenue collection. Installing and properly monitoring these meters would increase our revenue collection and reduce the commercial losses. It would also increase customer satisfaction for accurate energy measurement and billing and allow customers the opportunity to manage their own consumption. So far, this has also helped NEDCo recover old debts from customers.