PHCN Will Soon Issue Recharge Cards –Idris

PHCN Will Soon Issue Recharge Cards –Idris

Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company, a subsidiary of Power Holding Company of Nigeria, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, spoke with David Attah on power supply, proposed power recharge cards and sundry issuesWhat has been your experience since you assumed office as Managing Director/ CEO of KEDC?

It has been so good. If you live in Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto or Kebbi states, the impact of the supply of power has been a major success story for us. Power supply has never been as stable as it is now. So, the major achievement for me is the stability of power supply. It is up to you to say whether power supply has improved in Kaduna. I know there are areas in the state that do not know what power outage is because of stability in power supply. It has been challenging but so far so good. I can assure our customers that in 2013, they can just sit back and see the kind of result they will get. Certainly, 2013 will be a better year as we are preparing to take off with some of the projects that have been approved by the Federal Government to boost power supply in Kaduna and its environ.What are these projects that have been approved?

Right now, we have many projects. In Zaria, there is a replacement of 15MVA operating of power transformer at 7.5 15ma in our district office. There is also the operation of 2.5MVA to 7.5MVA at Kongo Conference at Tudun Wada, Zaria. There is also the replacement of a burnt down 7.5 Capacity Transformer at the Zaria transmission. There is also replacement of a 15MVA Transfer in Sokoto. The transformer failed about a year ago. The Federal Government approved the replacement of the transformer. Also, there is a plan for the rehabilitation of a line in Kebbi. It is also a project that is currently being undertaken. So it is hoped that there will be a boost in power supply when this project is completed.

If you conduct a sample of customers’ view in Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states, they will tell you that power is available, especially in Zamfara State where we used to have a big task in power supply. We did not know, not until the governor of Zamfara State invited us to a stakeholders meeting before we realised that the state was almost in a state of darkness. But when it came to our notice during the meeting, we took it upon ourselves to make sure that the issue was resolved. Customers in Gusau, Zamfara State will tell you that power is now stable; even the hours of supply have increased. More so, some areas are having 24 hours power supply in the North-West.

What is the current volume of power supply to northern states?

For Kaduna today, power supply is 138 Megawatts and it is one of the highest in the history of power supply in Kaduna metropolis. In Gusau, Zamfara State, power supply is 18 Megawatts as against five Megawatts before. We have not received the data for Sokoto and Kebbi states. I’m waiting for the report to come but I can tell you that power supply is stable. Power supply is available except in those areas where we have critical challenges; areas that have long network coverage; areas that fall under vandalisation because there is no security there and the rural customers are not able to protect our installations. So, those are the areas we have challenges. But by and large we are doing well and we can do better.What is the Internally Generated Revenue for the year 2012 compared to what it used to be?

I took over last year, precisely in August 2012 and as at the time of taking over, cash collection was around N700m. Cash collection as at December was N960m, the highest in the history of the company. This is a clear indication that power is available because revenue generation is a function of power supply. We are hoping that revenue will increase, especially when the on-going projects are completed and customers will be a lot happier than they are now.

What are the measures you are putting in place to sustain the revenue you are generating?

We are introducing a lot of products that will delight our customers and make them patronise us the more. For the first time in the history of this company, we are introducing the scratch cards just like the GSM phone recharge cards. All you need do is to buy a power recharge card to recharge your prepayment meter just the way you recharge your mobile telephone. You don’t have to come to our office anymore because you want to buy credit to top up your meter. You can also recharge online. We are providing an opportunity for our customers. We have products like the web-based payment where you can sit in the comfort of your home, in the comfort of your car, in the comfort of your office to recharge your electricity.

Some consumers believe the pre-paid meters are free, others believe it is not…

The Federal Government has made a policy that the prepayment meter is free and up to time of this interview, prepayment meter is free. For us in the company, we do not take money from any customer in the name of payment for meter; that has stopped. However, before the introduction of the policy, customers had already paid for meters. Since we are now in the pre-payment era, we consider those customers first. We service those customers first because they have already paid for those meters before and for new customers who will enjoy free meters, it is only when we have serviced those customers that we can install meters for our customers who have not paid.

A number of our customers got the meters free. When we say the meters are free, we mean it. There is an agitation that has come to our knowledge that because the meter is free, it has to be endorsed by the licensed Electrical Contractors of Nigeria. They also have their own fees because they need to endorse your service form and they charge administrative fees which is not part of the meter. It has no relationship with the meter. It is only a matter of policy that if you are applying for a new service, your application must be duly authorised by certified electrical contractor; so meter is absolutely free. There are customers who are in a hurry.

There are customers who would not want to wait for this free meter. There is a new policy now on the way to accommodate the view of customers who are impatient, who cannot wait for this meter to get to their turn. So the National Electricity Regulatory Commission has taken note of customers who cannot wait. So, the commission has given authority to deal with that category of customers. They can come under a special arrangement to pay for the meter, but that meter will be treated like a loan that will be monetised in their bill so that they don’t feel it. That is only a new development in the industry. We believe there are customers who are impatient. There are customers, who, because they have the money and don’t want to wait, they are willing to pay for it. So right now, for the customers who cannot wait for the free meter, the commission has authorised that such customers pay for the meter. But the repayment of that meter will be part of the billing over a period of time. The most interesting thing about that is that there is an incentive for customers to enjoy a discount.

Is it nationwide or for this zone alone?

It is a product that is peculiar to Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company, but it is not to say that our sister companies in the other 10 distribution companies will not do the same or are not already doing the same thing. Ours is peculiar to our environment.

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