A Refined NPA Board Chair Sails Forth!
In the last Grand Commissioning of the Bumbuna Hydro Project by the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, Chairperson of the National Power Authority Mrs. Maude Regina Peacock took the advantage of time to sell the country’s electricity corporation; looking at it in retrospect, current development and prospects it holds for the country’s development in the agenda for change.
In her opening remarks, the Board Chair candidly acknowledged that “Mr. President when your new Government came into office in September 2007, NPA was stuck at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. There was virtually no electricity supply and Freetown was labeled as the darkest city in the sub-region”.
But however stated that “having put together a formidable team, given strategic direction to the National Power Authority for almost two years now,” the National Power Authority has made great gains under the grand leadership of President Koroma, Prof. Ogunade Davidson and Dr. Zubairu Ahmed Kalokoh, which she said will hopefully be sustained as long as the leadership of such venture continues by the mandate of the people of Sierra Leone.
NPA in Retrospect
The Board Chairperson in retrospect noted that “the transmission and distribution network were built in the 1960’s and as such they were dilapidated.Â There was a backlog of four months salaries to staff; retirees could not receive their benefits. In all, 60 billion worth of debt was inherited but that in the last two years, the General Manager of the National Power Authority and team have been working relentlessly to transform the organization into what she described as a first class commercial organisation, under the direction of the Board of Directors, headed by your humble but determined patriot. Mrs. Peacock therefore bashed at those who still don’t have confidence in the operation of NPA by saying that “as such the NPA of today is far better then the NPA of yesterday”.Â
The NPA Boss avidly noted “I want to state that NPA staff, its General Manager and the Board of Directors is united behind your AGENDA FOR CHANGE, stating that the supply of electricity is a critical component in the President’s Agenda for Change and that NPA is already ahead of the game in implementing this important instrument for economic development as we shall see later.
She acknowledged the efforts of the former Minister Energy and Power Hon. Haja Afasatu Kabba, the present Minister of Energy and Water Kaloko and the NPA family was the indefatigable engine for the reformation of the electricity supply in the country which she said is the primary objective of the Authority.
Saluting the President – Clearing the Hurdles, Current Development
The National Power Authority in the guise of the abled Chairperson saluted the for what she called the completion of the age old Bumbuna Hydro Project which she noted has brought hope for investment and economic growth in the country. Mrs. Peacock said during his presentation that the project is a reality today because of the leadership and determination of the President to meet the demands of electricity supply to the people and business community of this great nation.
Mentioning progress made so far, the Chairperson intimated that many hurdles have been cleared stating that “there is no longer a backlog of salaries and salaries are paid on time; most of the debt inherited has been reduced by 50% and payment plan for the 3 billion of NASSIT debt incurred in July 2007 has been made” she impressed.
She mentioned that “NPA has procured US $2.3Million worth of Transmission and Distribution materials to make sure the people of Freetown receive the full benefit of electricity from Bumbuna” adding that “as we speak, NPA has already installed four major transformers in strategic communities in the heart of Freetown;” NPA she said “has increased the supply of electricity by 35%”.
The Future, the Priority
The Electricity Chairperson said “We have prioritized how we are going to improve the supply of electricity in Freetown: see below the order of Priority as stated by the Chairperson of the Board ofÂ National Power Authority.
Priority No. 1 is to quickly reinstate power supply in areas that used to get electricity supply but due to transformers and equipment failure they are not currently receiving electricity supply. These areas have been identified and work is going on there as we speak.
Priority No. 2 involves the upgrading of transformers stations’ equipment and materials. These include items such as installing new transformers, switchgears, Low Voltage (LV) Panels and High Voltage (HV) cables. NPA is vigorously pursuing this project.
Priority No. 3 involves areas were NPA infrastructure was destroyed during the civil war. These areas are currently not receiving any electricity service due to lack of materials. The restoration of power supply could not be completed due to lack of money to purchase materials and equipment for these areas.
Priority No.4 involves expanding the transmission and distribution network in areas not currently connected to the NPA power grid. The power grid is very much restricted in Freetown. The past management failed to expand the power grid outside Freetown. We have to do it for the good of society. Electricity supply is a socio-political government responsibility and NPA needs government assistance to expand the network.
Mr. President, we have ordered 15 transformers, 500 electric poles, cables, joining kits and other accessories to increase the supply of electricity to Freetown and its environs. We have prioritized the installation of these materials. The General Manager is full control of the management and operations of the Authority and we are satisfied with his performance.
We have installed 12,000 prepaid meters out of 20,000 ordered. We plan to procure and additional 60,000 prepaid meters through international competitive bidding to serve our customers.
Mr. President, as you can see NPA is quite busy and committed to actualizing your “Agenda for Change.” We cannot afford to be distracted with activities not related to the efficient and urgent supply electricity to the people. NPA has been well managed in the last two years and we need to continue to remain focused in expanding access to electricity to every Sierra Leonean and business community.
Finally, there are three ways you measure the success of a company. First, it is measured by its cash balance in the bank. Second, it is measured by its profitability, and third one can compare the company’s net assets versus its liabilities. How is NPA measured against these three things given the fact NPA inherited over Le60billion in debts from the previous management.
As of 31st December 2008, NPA had cash balance of over Le5billion in the bank.
NPA made over Le1billion profit as of 31st December 2008.
Had it not been for the huge unaccounted for Le60billion debts NPA inherited from the past management, NPA assets would have far exceeded its liabilities.
It is important to note that through prudent management by Dr. Zubairu Ahmed Kaloko, NPA has restructured all its debts and has prepared a payment plan to repay all its debts. Most important of all NPA has paid 50% of Le60billion debt it inherited. This is a testimony to good management.
The goal of the General Manager in the next 24 months is for NPA to be 100% free from government support and pay dividends to its shareholder. This goal is within reach but NPA must be left alone to manage its affairs and not be distracted from its corporate goals. NPA is preparing to compete in the West African Power Pool. It needs generating resources to compete or it will end up being a net buyer. This will not good for the population and business community. When you buy power instead of producing it you are buying it at incremental cost and you have to sell it at higher cost. The consumer loses in the end.
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