Engr. Emmanuel Katepa is the Managing Director, CEC Africa Investments Limited (CECA), and a Core Investor at Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC). In this Interview with The Fact, he shares his thoughts on the company’s current position and the recent decision of the Federal Government to delay the implementation of the New Tariff Regime by three (3) Months due to the raging Coronavirus Pandemic.
Sir, which areas do you think AEDC has done better in the First Quarter, 2020?
Despite all the challenges, AEDC has continued to perform strongly in the area of meter deployment – both under MAP and through other initiatives including distribution transformer metering. We intend to extend this to cover critical feeder metering as well, both for commercial and network control purposes. The other area that we are very happy with has been our ability to consistently meet our minimum remittance thresholds. Despite a slow start when the order first came out, we quickly got up to speed and have maintained performance in this area as well.
Has the outbreak of COVID-19 affected AEDC’s Revenue Collections in any way?
We expect to see the greater impact in our April collections. Whilst our industry has received exemption from lockdown as an essential industry, we are aware that the vast majority of our customers who live from pay check to pay check may struggle to meet their electricity bill. Even the commercial entities on whom we depend for a significant part of our collections are currently not operating at full capacity. This will certainly have an impact on our April collections. However, AEDC created a substation to connect the COVID-19 emergency centre at the ThisDay Dome in Abuja in a record time of 4 days as part of our corporate social responsibility.
Is there any Stimulus in place to protect the company if the country’s economy slips into recession?
The question of a stimulus is one that is best tackled at an industry and in fact, macroeconomic level because in a time like this, everything is interconnected. We have put forward some proposals and we believe the federal government will look at balancing the interests of the power sector against all the other priorities at this time to ensure the sector survives.
As an Investor, was the 3-Month delay in the implementation of the New Tariff Regime necessary?
Yes, I believe it was a wise decision. I have already pointed out the challenges that we think our customers will be facing in the next few months, it would be totally tone deaf for us to insist on forging ahead with plans that were drawn up before noonthis situation arose. There is pain to be felt all around as we tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and we shall all expect to share in the pain, as responsible corporate citizens.
What Technology do you think should be introduced to positively change the power business in Nigeria?
On the technology front, I have to say we have been very pleased with the impact of commercial management software on our business. It is allowing us to get closer to our customers. I am also a strong believer in a good mini-grids strategy if carefully implemented. This will enable our industry to grow from commercially viable clusters into a viable industry. Our current drive to lift the performance of the whole industry as one may not be a realistic goal in this vast and highly differentiated country.