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NPA Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

NPA Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Prior to the hosting of the O.A.U in 1980, the power sector enjoyed a relatively stable supply of electricity. This was made possible due to the installation of the Sulzer engines which were then managed by the Germans (OVM) Oscar Van Miller. After this era, the demand for electricity rose to an extent that the installed capacity soon become inadequate compared to the demand. The Germans soon left and the management of the NPA was then plagued with a series of management contractors which served no useful impetus to the problems of the power sector in the country which rather took a nose diving direction leaving the sector to deteriorate to the extent of being bankrupt. Successive governments (civilian/military) tried their best but unfortunately premium was not given to the energy sector and as such Sierra Leone was regarded as the darkest city in West Africa. After the 2007 elections the A.P.A. won and with the assumption of power by Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma energy became the primary focus for development in the country.

One of the most difficult works in any country is the management of the electric power sector.  A look at every African country and their history clearly shows that they have neglected their electric power system.  They failed to make repairs to their electric power systems and misused the financial resources of their power systems.  Sierra Leone is no exception; some African countries have learned from their mistakes and are taking steps to restore electricity supplies to customers.

One of the principal personnel assisting African countries in their power sector reform during the 1990s and early 2000s is Dr. Zubairu Ahmed Kaloko, a Sierra Leonean living in Pennsylvania, United States of America.  He is one the foremost experienced experts in electric generation transmission and distribution systems in the world.   As we cater for people from the Diaspora to come home to work we have to be mindful of how we treat those already here making tremendous sacrifices for their motherland. 

The number one priority of the NPA is to increase the supply of electricity in Freetown, and rebuild the generation, transmission and distribution facilities in all the twelve districts headquarter towns and other smaller towns and villages throughout the country and also improve on the corporate governance, and strengthen utility management and operations, in order to improve efficiency, quality of service, secure financial sustainability and increase private sector participation.  The primary focus of the NPA is to construct mini-hydroelectric power plants in every district in Sierra Leone and complement them with small 3MW to 5MW heavy fuel oil (HFO) machines to run during the dry season when water levels in rivers are insufficient to power the hydroelectric turbines.  This will provide electricity year round for all consumers in the country.

With his vast experience and knowledge in the energy sector over the period, Dr. Kaloko has developed an operational plan that will take the NPA to much higher heights and financial prosperity.  Provided everyone in Sierra Leone embraces His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s Attitudinal Changes, then the NPA is going to be one of the best parastatals in the country. 

As a means to further enhance the status and integrity of the parastatal, the following are some of the management strategies applied in order to augment the establishment’s corporate image.

  • Staff participation in the decision making process, by holding frequent meetings and brainstorming when critical decisions are to be taken.
  • Customer care, i.e., treating customers as NPA’s number one priority.
  • Applying proactive and innovative management styles.
  • Meeting individual staff while working and holding discussions with them, in order to know their problems and find solutions to these problems.
  • Giving incentives to staff for good work done.
  • Sensitizing the public both on the electronic and print media about NPAs operations.
  • Creation of 15 management teams to improve the overall efficiency of the authority.
  • Transparency and accountability in all the activities of the organization.

Considering that the authority is in a hurry for development within the shortest possible time the following forms part of the future plans of the present management

  • The poor state of Freetown’s Transmission and Distribution (T & D) lines. These lines were constructed in the 1960’s and have not been replaced since then. The lines have outlived their economic useful life. NPA therefore urgently needs USD 10Million to repair the first phase of the Western Area network system; this would involve buying poles, cables, wires, transformers, pole carrying vehicles and other T&D materials. However, plans have been completed and the project known as INTERSERVE is currently in progress funded by the World Bank
  • Because of lack of adequate meters for new connections and replacement of damaged meters, NPA urgently needs approximately 100,000 prepaid meters to dispense with the present credit meters in the system. In the meantime, the authority has ordered 20,000 prepaid meters which are now currently being installed in Freetown
  • Also the lack of vehicles for T & D revenue collection and monitoring activities has had debilitating effect on the activities of the establishment. In keeping with recommendation from the World Bank for restructuring of the authority and downsizing/rightsizing of staff. The authority needs about USD 5million to undertake the downsizing programme.
  • Stealing of NPAs cables and wires by the public without punitive action being taken by government is a cause for concern by management.
  • The establishment is at present experiencing system losses of 40% due to the poor state of the T & D lines and illegal connections.
  • The Japanese Government has provided USD 22Million for the JICA project whilst, the government of Sierra Leone should provide USD 190,000 as counterpart funding.
  • The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) is providing USD 26million for the installation of a 17MW generating plant at Blackhall Road of which the government’s contribution towards the project is USD 400,000
  • There is also a need to investigate the Le23 billion debts inherited by the present management.
  • Additional generation capacity of 3 MW is needed for each of the twelve district headquarters including the Bo-Kenema Power System (BKPS) since the customer population has outgrown the present capacity in BKPS. The Government is in negotiation and plans to construct mini-hydroelectric plants in each of the twelve districts in the country and also to repair the provincial transmission and distribution lines in each of the districts.

The General Manager’s preparation for the enhancement of the parastatal finished strong in 2009.  He started mobilizing his staff since1st December 2008 to get ready for 2009.  He said while our performance was good we must not be satisfied with it.  He started holding intensive meetings twice a week in order to review work plans, develop strategies, and even restructuring the organization by moving staff with special competencies to strategic positions to achieve the authority’s goals and objectives.

Below is a preview of what NPA plans to accomplish in 2009.

  • Install 20,000 prepaid meters. This will increase our revenue collection, reduce theft in revenue collection, reduce meter reading cost, reduce staff operating costs and improve overall efficiency of our operations.
  • Repair generating engine Sulzer 5 for utilization. Sulzer 5 will give 5MW and will significantly increase electricity supply to our customers in Freetown. This generating plant will also increase our revenue collection
  • NPA is repairing Sulzer 4 with a burnt alternator but the plant will be ready to run by the end of January or early February 2009. It will also increase our revenue collection in 2009.
  • Bumbuna is also coming on schedule. This will give us 50MW and with proper pricing Bumbuna should reduce NPA operating costs and increase our revenues.
  • JICA has two projects consisting of two phases.

o Phase I = construction of a high voltage transmission line from Kingtom to Regent and to build a Primary substation.

o Phase II = currently constructing a 10MW power station at Kingtom. This is scheduled to be completed in December 2009 and commissioned in January 2010.

On completion of the two projects, there will be an increase on NPA’s asset base and an increase on our revenue collection.

SUMMARY:  Bumbuna will give 50MW, the two generating Sulzers will give 10MW and JICA will give 10MW.  If all goes as planned, NPA will be receiving a total of 70 MW of power by 2010.

SOLUTION:  NPA has to repair its dilapidated transmission and distribution network in Freetown as T & D is the number one enemy of NPA.  Correspondingly the network is over 40 years old and has exceeded its economic useful life.

Corresponding finally as a result of the expansion in the energy sector, there is a social impact as a result of the improvement in electric generation:

  • improvement in the overall standard of living of the Freetown population by the provision of ice cold drinking water, yogurt, etc.
  • reduction of poverty, by the preservation of foodstuffs in freezers/refrigerators for days or months.
  • improvement in security within the city as a result of the constant electricity supply.
  • creation of additional entertainment centres and hotels in the city which enhances the social lives of the citizenry.

As a result of the improvement in the power sector under the leadership of Dr. Kaloko, in the year 2008, NPA has been awarded two certificates as the best government parastatal over the period by the Kids Advocacy Network and Citizen Radio Kissy FM 103.7 respectively  commemorating their 6th anniversary July 2002 – July 2008.

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