Columnists Features

Zesco warms up for competition

PATSON PHIRI, Lusaka
SOON after cost-reflective electricity tariffs came into effect, Zesco launched a new strategic road map with a view to upping their game and becoming a hub for electricity trading in the region.

The firm’s new strategic direction comes at the back of Government’s decision to promote private sector participation in the power generation business.
With cost-reflective tariffs in force, the Government expects to attract investors in power generation in a quest to end the power deficit Zambia is facing.
This will definitely create competition for the power utility firm, which has been a dominant player in the supply of electricity in the country.
Apart from that, the parastatal company is expected to operate profitably and wean itself from any government funding.  
Zesco has chosen to face the road ahead with determination, therefore putting its plans on paper for tracking purposes.
Their new mission statement says “Making it easy for people to live a better life”, and their vision is “to be the hub for electricity trading in the region by 2025”.
Customer value proposition, enhanced use of skilled manpower and an all-round engagement of modernised generating technologies will take centre stage in the company’s drive to operate profitably in future.
The firm wants to turn its threats into opportunities, therefore preparing itself to give newcomers on the market tough competition.
The launch of the strategic road map was held at Radisson Blu Hotel in Lusaka where the human resources directorate laid bare the company’s new strategy.
“The electricity sub-sector will be affected by the planned government reforms. There will be private sector participation and Zesco needs to enter in a new business model,” said director of human resources Rhoda Mwale as she rolled out the power-point slides.  
“At Zesco, we are positioning ourselves to exploit these changes in the energy sector. We are cognisant of our competitiveness, resources, capabilities and competencies to bridge the existing gaps,” Ms Mwale added.
The company plans to increase the generation capacity through its own and third-party investments into generation mix technologies and development of hydro- power plants.
Noting that demand for power is growing exponentially, Ms Mwale said the company must ensure that it continues satisfying customers by rehabilitating, reinforcing and expanding the mechanics and networks of distribution.
She said Zesco has the responsibility of ensuring that customers have access to electricity that meets their needs.
“This requires us to deploy systems and put in place specific measures to ensure that we are reducing the turnaround times for new connections, fault resolution, and customer queries,” Ms Mwale said.
Some of the systems the firm expects to use to deliver reliable services to the Zambian people include better network management using Wide-Area Monitoring, Protection, Automation and Control Systems (WAMPAC), which will be used for grid planning, operation, maintenance and electricity trading.
The Government is happy because the strategic direction is designed to enable Zesco operate without depending on subsidies.
Minister of Energy David Mabumba said the plan demonstrates how a parastatal organisation should operate – making profits as opposed to depending on government funding.
“The strategy is about deliberately choosing to be different. The process of defining and making strategy is about making choices, prioritising and trading off that which may derail you from your path to achieving your excellence,” Mr Mabumba said.
He noted that a tremendous amount of work and effort had gone into mapping out the new strategic direction.
The power utility firm is making a decision to divert from the norm given the country’s shift to cost-reflective electricity tariffs.
There is hope that through the strategic document, Zesco will systematically follow through its plans to ease the task of meeting the goals.
 “These efforts should be commended especially because once the strategy is clearly defined, it makes it easier to then align day-to-day activities to your mission and vision. This in turn makes it possible to improve processes and monitor performance against strategic goals,” Mr Mabumba said.
Employees of public institutions have generally been accused of being lax towards work because there is no system to monitor their performance.
But Mr Mabumba wants Zesco to make maximum use of all human resources.
“By your efforts, you have answered Government’s call for public institutions to ensure that all employees are held accountable for their work in order to create value for customers and meet shareholder expectations.
The new Zesco road map sets 2025 as the year when all systems around improved service and provision of reliable electricity will be achieved.
It’s the duty of Zesco to steer economic growth through the provision of safe and reliable electricity services to all, and their new strategic plan takes cognisance of this mandate.
The company’s managing director Victor Mundende launched the performance management project in September 2016 with the hope that Zesco would redefine its strategic direction.
Since then, the firm has been working hard to set the strategic foundation and attendant elements that should bring about the desired transformation of the organisation.
The strategic direction places the Zambian people, the customers, the environment and shareholders as top priority in Zesco’s endeavour to deliver quality service.
“The successful delivery of this picture of success will not only require a re-examination of our business model, but also a new strategy. We firmly believe that the reason for our existence, as Zesco, is to serve our customers by making it easy for them to live a better life,” Mr Mundende said.
He said the company has a vision to be the hub for electricity trade by 2025, which requires optimum investment in all sectors of its operation.
This can be achieved by aligning its goals and activities with the set goals.
“We need to inculcate a culture of hard work in all of us employees, so as to drive the organisation’s performance forward. This cannot be overemphasised. We all have a part to play in the delivery of our promise which calls for a new way of working,” Mr Mundende said.
He also pledged to ensure that every employee is brought on board as the company embarks on the new journey.
The new strategic direction is being launched at a time when Mr Mundende is assuming the chairmanship of the Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA) which Zesco is hosting in Livingstone in July this year.

 

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