Top 25 Most Influential Chair of Board Impacting Business

UK trained scholar, banker and attorney, Vivienne Yeda is the Chairman of the Board of Kenya Power Lighting Company (known daily as Kenya Power-KP) breaking the glass ceiling, becoming the first woman to lead the board of the strategic utility firm.

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Vivienne Yeda

CHAIR OF THE BOARD KENYA POWER LIGHTING COMPANY

Kenyans woke up in the morning of Friday 29th October 2021, to the news that Kenya Power (KPLC) bounces back to post a KShs.8.2 Bn Pre-Tax Profit, with a performance highlight indicating positive return on investments in several parameters, in the financial year ending 30th June 2021.

Kenya Power reported a 5% growth in unit sales to 8,571 GWh from 8,171 GWh the previous year, largely driven by the connection of 716,206 new customers, representing a rebound from the initial effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic. In the Report, KPLC records a 2% growth in revenue to Kshs.144.1 billion mainly due to increased pace of customer connections and heightened revenue protection activities leading to improved cash flow and reduced provisions of bad debts.

Finance costs was reduced by 27% following the partial conversion of overdrafts to a term loan, and continued repayment of commercial loans. The net result from all these efforts was a strong 216% Year on Year growth in profit before taxation (PBT) to Kshs.8.2 billion, in comparison to a loss before tax of Kshs.7.04 Bn the previous year.

All customer segments recorded growth, with Commercial and Industrial growing by 4.8%, Small Commercial by 5.1%, domestic customers by 4.9% and Street-lighting by 10.2%. Revenue recorded an 8.2% jump from Kshs.133.3 billion the previous year to Kshs.144.1 billion, mainly due to an expanded customer base, and heightened revenue protection activities driven by increased field presence.

Commenting on the results, the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Vivienne Yeda, noted that the strong performance was a credible indicator that the turn-around strategy, rolled out the previous financial year, was on course. The strategy focuses on five core focus areas, namely improving customer experience, growing sales, enhancing revenue collection, enhancing system efficiency, and prudent cost management. 

“As a Company, we are pleased with this set of results because it is a clear demonstration that the investments we have made in driving a strong performance by the core business lines are beginning to bear fruits. Having said that, we are cognisant of the fact that a lot more needs to be done to fully transform Kenya Power into a 21st century organisation,” said the Chairman.

In the year under review, Kenya Power also undertook greater cost management and resource optimisation initiatives. As a result, operating expenses dropped by 17% from Kshs.47.8 billion to Kshs.39.9 billion mainly due to a reduction in provisions for trade and receivables from Kshs.3.27 billion the previous year to Kshs.354 million, which was mainly driven by accounting for revenue, and enhanced revenue collection initiatives.  

Finance costs also registered a 27% reduction from Kshs.12.5 billion in FY2020/21 to Kshs.9 billion due to a decrease in interest on loans and overdrafts as a result of a Kshs.20.26 billon repayment of commercial loans which included the partial conversion of overdrafts into a term loan.

System losses, which had risen to 25.21% in the first half of the year, were reduced to 22.7% in the second half. This followed the deployment of a focused approach premised on the timely metering of customers, replacement of faulty meters, curbing electricity theft arising from meter by-passes and illegal connections, as well as the deployment of data analytics to identify and deal with electricity theft in the large power customer segment. Overall system efficiency stood at 76.05% as at the end of June 2021.

To further improve system efficiency, Kenya Power is planning to increase the coverage of the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) project, which presently covers 6,718 or 80% of large power customers to full coverage by the end of 2022. Plans are also underway to expand SME coverage, which stands at 54,272 SMEs, by a further 67,000 during this financial year.

Kenya Power has also completed the regional border metering project and is stepping up the implementation of feeder and transformer metering, currently at 33% and 95% completion respectively, to aid in identifying high loss feeders for targeted interventions.

“Kenya Power is a great Company with a century’s worth of experience of powering Kenya’s social and economic growth. In the course of our journey, we have encountered many challenges and overcome hurdles in operations and the overall business environment. Kenya Power is a resilient business with a bright future given the exciting innovations being made in e-mobility, transmission and distribution, and renewable energy technology particularly in the area of storage. The Company is primarily purchasing green energy, which currently accounts for more than 92% of our total energy mix, making it one of the best ratios in the world. Affordable storage will enhance our efficiencies which will in turn increase our reliability and result in more affordable power. As an organization, we are well positioned to take a leadership role in these developments in order to improve customer satisfaction, and ensure the sustainability of our business,” the Chairman added.

Going forward, Kenya Power is planning to increase the uptake of the self-service platform, *977#, which with over 2 million registered users recorded over 19.6 million transactions in the period. Kenya Power also intends to roll out a robust plan, anchored on partnerships, to drive the uptake of electric vehicles in the country, while also exploring the lit fibre business, in order to increase the penetration of internet connectivity across the country, particularly in the rural areas. The Company’s extensive fibre network presently offers dark fibre services to the country’s major ISPs to facilitate the provision of internet services to the end buyer in the retail and enterprise segments across the country and neighbouring countries.

The Chairman further posits that, “Looking into the future, our focus remains on transforming this strategically important Company into a pre-eminent local and regional organisation by implementing a strong diversification agenda which will be underpinned by innovation and a high-performance culture. Our transformation strategy is aimed at sustainably growing the business by continuously empowering our people and streamlining our processes to make them more responsive to customer needs. To this end, significant focus will be placed on improving the accuracy of our billing system by investing in a more robust IT system and enhancing our internal processes. We will also run a cost-efficient operation which will provide value for money and best practice in supply chain management.”

In the immediate to medium terms, Kenya Power is undertaking deep seated reforms aimed at driving down the cost of power to the end consumer in order to spur social and economic growth, make the business more efficient and agile, and the energy sector more sustainable.

“The Board recognised that a continued unbalanced approach towards power purchase agreements posed a systemic risk to the sector and the economy as a whole while exposing consumers to high electricity bills. In mitigation, it undertook a collective stakeholder approach to resolve these issues which resulted in the report of the Presidential Taskforce on the Review of Power Purchase Agreements which has made far reaching recommendations which we have started implementing. We will continue to enhance business efficiency and step-up dialogue on power purchase reforms in order to make electricity more affordable for our customers, and to boost Kenya’s competitiveness as a manufacturing hub to spur economic and social growth,” noted the Chairman.

“We would like to thank the President H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta for his leadership and, the Cabinet sub-committee on KPLC led by the Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government, Dr. Fred Matiangí, the National Treasury led by the Cabinet Secretary Hon. Ukur Yatani, the Ministry of Energy led by Dr. Monica Juma, shareholders, consumers, partners and staff for the support they have offered the business,” concludes the Chairman.

The Kenya Power and Lighting Company PLC (Kenya Power) is a publicly listed company, and the country’s only electricity off taker that transmits, distributes and retails power to customers throughout Kenya.

In the period between 1922 to date, it has extended its transmission and distribution network across the country, covering a total of 248,834 kilometres. As at June 2021, the Company had over 8.3 million accounts and had enabled 75% of the country’s population to access the national grid, making Kenya rank top in the world in terms of connectivity pace according to the World Bank’s ‘Energy Progress Report’ for 2021.

The Company’s vision is to be Kenya’s energy solutions provider of choice by sustainably supplying quality and reliable service to power people for better lives so as to support the country’s socio-economic development using innovation and leveraging on technology.

This sterling performance in the first year of a new Board of directors and a new Chairman who had just recently been appointed during the 43rd Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on November 13, 2020, is laudable, if not historic.

UK trained scholar, banker and attorney, Vivienne Yeda is the Chairman of the Board of Kenya Power Lighting Company (known daily as Kenya Power-KP) breaking the glass ceiling, becoming the first woman to lead the board of the strategic utility firm.

The appointment of Vivienne Yeda was no surprise for those who have worked with her before. Vivienne is the director general (DG) of the East Africa Development Bank (EADB) a position she has successfully held since January 15, 2009. Prior to her appointment as the CEO at EADB, Vivienne was Resident Representative and Country Manager-Zambia at the Africa Development Bank Group (ADB).

Upon her appointment, Vivienne and her new board were singularly charged with the onerous task to lead the turnaround of Kenya Power, to provide sustainable energy to the Kenyan economy, energy that is both affordable, reliable and sustainable. The affordability aspect of energy is critical to the social and economic development of the country. It is also part of the improvement recognized and flagged as fulfilling one of the 30 UNSDGs.

Since her appointment, Kenya Power, embarked on offering customers the level of service desired, including access to power through efficient and prompt connectivity, including an improvement on the reliability index by reducing outages to the bare minimum and prompt billing. These key performance indicators (KPI) are already in the out-tray, with actions already taken to roll out the needed interventions as well as needed reforms to realize the new Board’s vision.

As Chairman, Vivienne is the cog that joins together all the spikes of the Implementation of the recommendations of the Presidential Taskforce on Review of Power Purchase Agreements (“PPA Taskforce”), constituted in to address concerns about the high cost of electricity, which includes the review and renegotiation of existing power purchase agreements (“PPAs”), especially leading the reforms at the Kenya Power and Lighting Company, taking the lead in formulation and related PPA procurement of Kenya’s Least Cost Power Development Plan among a raft of many others.

Judging by the achievements so far, the UK trained attorney is up to the task.

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Dr. Hanningtone Gaya

Dr. Hanningtone Gaya

Kenya’s Dr Hanningtone Gaya, holds a PhD in Commerce in Business Management from Nelson Mandela University (NMU), is viewed as an authority in country branding and is the founder chairman of the Brand Kenya Board.

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