Untangling KPLC: Where The Whole Darkness Started

By Soko Directory Team / Published January 10, 2024 | 3:35 pm



Electricity

By Kimari Kimari

My earliest memory of a power outage, courtesy of Kenya Power, goes way back. I was born and raised inside a girl’s high school (you can read about it in my book). Consequently, whenever power came back on, we would instantly be informed by the cheers from the girls.

I also recall in the early 90’s the blackouts underwent conversion into power rationing. Many businesses and institutions began investing in diesel-powered generators. During this period, the cheers, from the girls, became less frequent.

In the late 90s, just before an Africa Cup of Nations thriller on a slow Saturday afternoon, the lights went out. This pattern (lights going out at the least opportune moment) has persisted to this day. This might just be a coincidence but it’s hard to miss an unpredictable pattern. I write not to rant but to offer a lasting solution to this chronic malady.

It happened that after the power dramas of the early 1990s, the Breton Woods institutions intervened and decided to break up KPLC whilst introducing Independent Power Producers (IPPs). Before this untangling, Kenya Power was a behemoth of an institution that did everything from managing power generation to transmission, distribution, and installation. For a young country that was still grappling with ignorance, disease, and hunger, no one cared who did what as far as power was concerned. However, as Kenya underwent both political and economic transformation and private enterprise began to gallop faster than government, technocrats went to work.

Read Also: KPLC Wants You To Start Cooking Using Electricity ASAP

Untangling brought about some semblance of order in the power and energy sector. KenGen (Kenya Electricity Generating Company), formerly known as Kenya Power Corporation (KPC), which had been managed by KPLC since its creation in 1954 gained autonomy from KPLC in 1997. Following the political transition of 2002, KenGen went public. Since then, it has largely remained profitable. As if in a trance of sibling rivalry, KPLC also started churning profits in their billions. In the years 2007 and 2008, several other entities were also hived off KPLC. Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (KETRACO), responsible for power transmission, REA (now REREC) which was to handle rural electrification, and Geothermal Development Company (GDC). These, however, never went public.

Expectedly, this splitting of KPLC into more focused commercial and operational units was met with cheers akin to the ones that my female neighbors used to make. In business modeling, the term used to describe this process is ‘unbundling of the business model’. The proponents of the Business Model Canvas (BMC) argue that there are three general business types. These are; a product or innovation business (think Coca-Cola and Samsung), an infrastructure business (think petrol stations, fiber infrastructure), and finally, a customer relationship business (think Safaricom, Showmax).

When KPLC was being split into different entities, this is what was at play. One unit would focus on power generation (product), another one on transmission (infrastructure), and the last one on distribution and installation. It is with this last entity, where the problem lies. In my opinion, there should be another entity whose sole purpose would be to bill and offer customer support (customer relationship). Perhaps that is the reason why KPLC has been limping lately, best illustrated by the inconceivable losses they have been reporting. This limping has been met, not with less frequent cheers, but with riotous jeers. In 2011, the year KPLC rebranded to Kenya Power in an ostentatious media campaign, they were engaging in a futile communication exercise. This is because the entity that is to endear itself to consumers does not yet exist.

Take Safaricom for instance. After spending years building a gigantic institution, similar in many ways to KPLC, they eventually outsourced the telecommunications infrastructure business to an independent entity; similarly, they have always done the same with sim cards, airtime, and Mpesa distribution via dealers and agents. The only function they have retained control over, to a large extent, is the customer relationship. Though only twenty years old and partly owned by the government, Safaricom remains the most profitable company in the region. Therefore, KPLC should watch and learn by unbundling the power distribution and installation function from that of the customer relationship.

Consequently, instead of calling the guy who installed your power to address power consumption challenges (the same way you don’t call the lady who sold you a sim card to sort out your airtime issues), you would be able to reach a friendly customer care representative. Hopefully, instead of asking for your meter number before addressing your query, this customer care rep. would swiftly address your complaint, possibly because they would have linked your cell phone number to your meter number. Lastly, instead of the CS for energy laboring to explain the cause of the national power outage, a communication officer from this new entity would be doing the heavy lifting on behalf of the executive. If this is done, maybe the deafening jeers from consumers might just turn into cheers.

Read Also: Kenyans Frustrated Following Massive Delays In Token Remittance At KPLC

Kimari Kimari is a public speaker, corporate trainer, and marketing consultant. He is also the author of Slaves, Priests & Kings.

thebiighut@gmail.com

Follow him on X @thebiighut




About Soko Directory Team

Soko Directory is a Financial and Markets digital portal that tracks brands, listed firms on the NSE, SMEs and trend setters in the markets eco-system.Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/SokoDirectory and on Twitter: twitter.com/SokoDirectory

View other posts by Soko Directory Team


More Articles From This Author








Trending Stories










Other Related Articles










SOKO DIRECTORY & FINANCIAL GUIDE



ARCHIVES

2024
  • January 2024 (238)
  • February 2024 (227)
  • March 2024 (190)
  • April 2024 (133)
  • May 2024 (157)
  • June 2024 (75)
  • 2023
  • January 2023 (182)
  • February 2023 (203)
  • March 2023 (322)
  • April 2023 (298)
  • May 2023 (268)
  • June 2023 (214)
  • July 2023 (212)
  • August 2023 (257)
  • September 2023 (237)
  • October 2023 (266)
  • November 2023 (286)
  • December 2023 (177)
  • 2022
  • January 2022 (293)
  • February 2022 (329)
  • March 2022 (358)
  • April 2022 (292)
  • May 2022 (271)
  • June 2022 (232)
  • July 2022 (278)
  • August 2022 (253)
  • September 2022 (246)
  • October 2022 (196)
  • November 2022 (232)
  • December 2022 (167)
  • 2021
  • January 2021 (182)
  • February 2021 (227)
  • March 2021 (325)
  • April 2021 (259)
  • May 2021 (285)
  • June 2021 (272)
  • July 2021 (277)
  • August 2021 (232)
  • September 2021 (271)
  • October 2021 (305)
  • November 2021 (364)
  • December 2021 (249)
  • 2020
  • January 2020 (272)
  • February 2020 (310)
  • March 2020 (390)
  • April 2020 (321)
  • May 2020 (335)
  • June 2020 (327)
  • July 2020 (333)
  • August 2020 (276)
  • September 2020 (214)
  • October 2020 (233)
  • November 2020 (242)
  • December 2020 (187)
  • 2019
  • January 2019 (251)
  • February 2019 (215)
  • March 2019 (283)
  • April 2019 (254)
  • May 2019 (269)
  • June 2019 (249)
  • July 2019 (335)
  • August 2019 (293)
  • September 2019 (306)
  • October 2019 (313)
  • November 2019 (362)
  • December 2019 (318)
  • 2018
  • January 2018 (291)
  • February 2018 (213)
  • March 2018 (275)
  • April 2018 (223)
  • May 2018 (235)
  • June 2018 (176)
  • July 2018 (256)
  • August 2018 (247)
  • September 2018 (255)
  • October 2018 (282)
  • November 2018 (282)
  • December 2018 (184)
  • 2017
  • January 2017 (183)
  • February 2017 (194)
  • March 2017 (207)
  • April 2017 (104)
  • May 2017 (169)
  • June 2017 (205)
  • July 2017 (189)
  • August 2017 (195)
  • September 2017 (186)
  • October 2017 (235)
  • November 2017 (253)
  • December 2017 (266)
  • 2016
  • January 2016 (164)
  • February 2016 (165)
  • March 2016 (189)
  • April 2016 (143)
  • May 2016 (245)
  • June 2016 (182)
  • July 2016 (271)
  • August 2016 (247)
  • September 2016 (233)
  • October 2016 (191)
  • November 2016 (243)
  • December 2016 (153)
  • 2015
  • January 2015 (1)
  • February 2015 (4)
  • March 2015 (164)
  • April 2015 (107)
  • May 2015 (116)
  • June 2015 (119)
  • July 2015 (145)
  • August 2015 (157)
  • September 2015 (186)
  • October 2015 (169)
  • November 2015 (173)
  • December 2015 (205)
  • 2014
  • March 2014 (2)
  • 2013
  • March 2013 (10)
  • June 2013 (1)
  • 2012
  • March 2012 (7)
  • April 2012 (15)
  • May 2012 (1)
  • July 2012 (1)
  • August 2012 (4)
  • October 2012 (2)
  • November 2012 (2)
  • December 2012 (1)
  • 2011
    2010
    2009
    2008
    2007
    2006
    2005
    2004
    2003
    2002
    2001
    2000
    1999
    1998
    1997
    1996
    1995
    1994
    1993
    1992
    1991
    1990
    1989
    1988
    1987
    1986
    1985
    1984
    1983
    1982
    1981
    1980
    1979
    1978
    1977
    1976
    1975
    1974
    1973
    1972
    1971
    1970
    1969
    1968
    1967
    1966
    1965
    1964
    1963
    1962
    1961
    1960
    1959
    1958
    1957
    1956
    1955
    1954
    1953
    1952
    1951
    1950