Exclusive interview with Gordon Molefe, Director Customer Engagement, Botswana Power Corporation. Mr Molefe will be presenting on rural electrification in Cape Town in May.
1. Tell us more about your organisation and your activities in the utility industry?
Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) is the electricity supply company in Botswana. It is mandated with generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. In addition, the Company also acts an implementation agency for execution of Government funded Rural Electrification programmes.
2. Any specific project updates/success stories in your department of Customer Services and Supply that you can share?
The introduction of the supervending prepaid electricity; a project implemented during 2013/14 financial period entailed conversion of SMMEs and households in towns and cities as well as the introduction of super vendors who act as intermediaries in the sale of electricity has been a symbolic project. The concept resulted in improved revenue collection since large number of customers purchased electricity on prepaid; debts particularly for households reduced tremendously. In addition, billing queries as well as walk-in customers has declined, hence long queues reduced and the waiting period for service reduced.
Continued electrification of new villages and network extensions in already electrified villages propelled momentum of improving electricity access to the rural communities. Network extension was undertaken in 28 villages and new village electrification was also undertaken in 15 villages.
3. What in your view are the main challenges currently to the energy industry in Africa?
The major challenge facing the energy industry in Africa is the supply gap. Africa with the fastest growing economies needs more power negation capacity. The aging networks also pose a serious challenge as regards supply stability and/or reliability of services. Industry players have to focus more on generation and distribution investments to have sufficient and reliable power supplies.
4. What is your vision for this industry?
The industry has a very bright future. The economic growth of any country is heavily dependent on electricity commodity. With adequate investment, regulations and policy frameworks, the industry has ample opportunity for growth hence job creation as well as capacity building.
5. You are part of the programme during this year’s African Utility Week in May – what will be your message at the event?
My main massage will be that Africa’s power utilities have to invest more in the energy sector to develop fellow African communities. Given that globalisation has caught up with us; that we are in the information age, we need to ensure that the masses of our people are not left behind. Obviously, without electricity, which is an enabler to many aspects of upliftment of social lives; cooking, education, healthcare and more, our societies will remain behind. We need to ensure our people have access to electricity.
The gap between demand and supply needs to be urgently addressed to keep the momentum of economic growth on the continent. Electricity is the engine for economic growth. Attraction of foreign direct investment is anchored around availability of this commodity.
6. What are you most looking forward to at African Utility Week?
I am looking forward to learning from peers; technologies, solutions, concepts, trends and most importantly networking with African peers.
7. Anything you would like to add?
Whilst I was never a regular at this event I am intrigued by the ample growth opportunities at this platform and where opportunity avails itself, I am likely to join the energy information highway by being a regular attendee going forward.