Chronicling Mupwaya’s 365 days as AEDC CEO
Today is exactly one year since Engr. Ernest Raphael Mupwaya assumed office as Managing Director/ CEO of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) Plc. A member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Mupwaya emerged AEDC CEO highly prepared for the job having capped his three decades of engineering practice with a master’s in business administration (MBA). Equally, before his assumption of duty as CEO on August 1, 2016, he was the Company’s Executive Director in charge of Commercial Services, a position he held for three years. Mupwaya, thus, took the driver’s seat at AEDC set to navigate the prevailing stormy atmosphere in the Nigerian power sector.
Evidently, the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) was confronted with various challenges at the point of Mupwaya’s ascension to the position of MD of AEDC. Power generation was low. Besides, the industry was facing a huge liquidity challenge because, among other reasons, customers’ resistance to the payment of the revised electricity tariff which in itself is not cost reflective. Also, the dwindling Naira exchange rate and the rising inflation in the economy impacted negatively on the sector. More so, there was a disillusionment with the privatisation of the sector by a section of the Nigerian public.
Conscious of the persisting turbulence when he took over, therefore, Mupwaya began his stewardship by strategically engaging with some key stakeholders of the Company as a confidence-building mechanism. Notable among stakeholders he engaged with in his initial days in Office were the Governor of Niger State, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello and the eight top monarchs in that state; the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN; the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Malam Muhammad Musa Bello; the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele; the Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, as well as media establishments such as DAAR Communications Plc (proprietors of Africa Independent Television-AIT and Ray Power FM) and Media Trust Limited (publishers of Daily Trust). These high profile engagements not only solidified AEDC’s confidence-building efforts amongst its stakeholders, it also rapidly improved the Company’s cash collection.
Having realised customers’ anxiety about having prepaid meters, Mupwaya’s next major move after the confidencebuilding diplomatic swing was to vigorously pursue the Company’s mass metering programmes for both large and small power users across its franchise area which includes FCT, Kogi, Nasarawa and Niger states. And quite characteristic of his gusto, AEDC’s large power user (LPU) metering scheme was officially flagged off on November 9, 2016, which coincided with his 50th day in Office, while the small power users’ (SPU) metering project was launched on the 21st of December last year. Again, the CEO’s drive ensured the conclusion of the metering of all its LPU customers also referred to as maximum demand (MD) customers ahead of the February 28, 2017 dateline set by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
To enhance speedy execution of the Company’s SPU metering project, Mupwaya accelerated the customer enumeration project through mass recruitment of enumerators and acquisition of several utility vehicles for the unit, among others. But even while the enumerators crisscrossed towns, villages and streets across the AEDC’s coverage area to capture database of the Company’s customers, the CEO successfully negotiated contracts for provision and installation of 90,000 meters by Mojec Nigeria Limited and another 30,000 by ZTE Nigeria Limited, all at the cost of N3.4 billion. Hitherto, the Company had installed over 78,000 meters for customers through the NERC-instituted Credited Advanced Payment for Metering Implementation (CAPMI) which was suspended last year.
Side by side the metering projects is the effort to provide cashless payment solutions for ease of transactions by customers. Mindful of the penchant for energy theft and other forms of fraud by customers too, the MD initiated partnership with strategic stakeholders such as the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) of the Federation to curb such incidents. The Company is also pursuing other partnerships especially in curtailing vandalising of power equipment in its franchise area.
Other strides by the current CEO include sustaining the tempo of improvements in the Company’s network infrastructure, acquisition of ICT equipment, procurement of additional utility vehicles as well as other implements required to ensure a conducive working environment for employees such as personal protection equipment (PPE), especially for technical staff who clear faults and maintain the power supply lines. He has also ensured the takeoff of the Company’s Training Institute to fortify staff for the challenges ahead as Nigeria’s power sector evolves into an efficient one. Mupwaya has also sped up the implementation of the business process reform and transformation projects being executed in partnership with Tetra Tech, an American consulting firm. This is in a bid to change the work culture in AEDC towards global best practices.
A combination of these and some other factors have greatly boosted the morale of staff. The employees are not only gratified by AEDC’s meteoric rise to the top among the Distribution Companies in terms of various assessment indices, they are also happy that their welfare is being accorded the right kind of attention. A major consequence of these is the rising productivity across the Company, which ultimately enhances its performance amidst its peers.
AEDC has won numerous accolades and recognition in the NESI. For instance, it has been adjudged the best Distribution Company in terms of corporate governance practices. Also, it is the first Disco to be issued with an environmental audit certificate for completion of audit across its entire franchise area. The Company has since December 2016 ranked first in remittances to the electricity market as publications of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader (NBET) have confirmed. All these are feats achieved under Mupwaya’s stewardship.
Worthy of note also is the considerable progress being made in reducing the Company’s average technical, commercial and collection (ATC& C) losses, an issue that is dear to the hearts of Regulators of the industry.
It is equally remarkable that under his stewardship AEDC is doing more in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), thus impacting greatly on the lives of the Company’s host communities, aside improving power supply to them.
Although the Company’s journey to its dream of a world class status is still miles ahead, Mupwaya has indeed proven all the predictions about his adroitness as right. While handing over AEDC to the current CEO, his predecessor, Mr. Neil Croucher had this to say: “We have achieved a lot with Ernest (Mupwaya) and other members of the EMT (Executive Management Team). We have always thought and acted together. I think you will take the Company higher.” Speaking at a send forth dinner for the Mr. Croucher, a former Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr. Sam Amadi said: “I’ve no doubt that the new CEO will take AEDC higher given his experience”.
As he begins the next lap in the journey to making AEDC’s customers exceedingly happy, it is the view of keen watchers that Mupwaya’s accelerated steps will take the Company to its destination even faster than many expect.
Ahmed Shekarau is the Head of Public Relations & Media of AEDC.