Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  12 Nov 2008

MANAGEMENT: Getting to Grips with Electricity


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Professor Anton Eberhard, head of the Management Programme in Infrastructure Reform and Regulation (MIR) at the UCT Graduate School of Business (UCT GSB), has initiated a peer review and learning network to improve leadership and management capability within Africa’s electricity regulatory agencies.

The initiative was kick-started with an inaugural workshop at the UCT GSB on 18 October where Chief Executives from Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia signed a Memorandum of Understanding and agreed on the protocols and methodologies of the network.

Professor Eberhard said participating bodies would use the initiative to visit and review each other’s organisations as a mutual learning exercise to ultimately improve electricity services on the continent.

“It is hoped that the initiative will contribute to improved performance of electricity utilities, increased investment, widened access and reliable and competitively priced electricity services across the continent,” said Eberhard.

The Chief Executives, accompanied by Professor Eberhard and Joseph Kapika, the network’s convener and a PhD candidate at the UCT GSB, followed up the workshop with a visit to Windhoek to undertake a week’s review of the Namibian electricity regulator.

During the week an interrogation and analysis of the governance arrangements, regulatory methodologies and decision-making processes was undertaken which also included discussions with the government ministry responsible for electricity, local utilities, representatives of industry, civil society and the local media.

Eberhard said the review provided a fascinating, in-depth insight into the performance of a single organisation in comparison with its peer institutions. Preliminary findings and recommendations were presented to the Board, management and staff of the Namibian regulator and a report is now being finalised by the MIR.

According to Eberhard, efficient and reliable electricity supplies are essential to powering economic growth and social welfare on the continent but many African countries are faced with chronic power shortages and poor quality supply.

“There is a desperate need for incumbent utilities to improve upon their efficiencies,” he said.

“The magnitude of the supply challenge also means that private investment must also be brought into the sector. Electricity regulators, of which there are more than 30 across Africa, play a key role in this effort as they determine prices, set and monitor quality of supply standards and also control market access. Regulators also have to ensure that electric utilities begin to provide efficient services and invest sufficiently in infrastructure to meet current and future demand.”

Over the past seven years, MIR at the UCT GSB has been running specialist Executive Education courses for managers and professional staff from relevant government ministries and departments, regulatory agencies, utilities and the private sector. This new initiative by the MIR aims to take these educational and capacity building efforts from the classroom to experiential learning in the workplace.

“Over the two year duration of the initiative, the organisations of each of the Chief Executives will be reviewed by their peers with the primary aim of creating a uniquely enriching and valuable peer learning experience to all the members of the network. If the enthusiasm and participation of the Chief Executive Officers during the Namibia review is anything to go by, this aim shall indeed be attained,” said Eberhard.

This initiative has been made possible by a generous grant from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Pretoria.

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