Management Contracting Transforms Africa’s Utilities

Sahid Mohammed, CEO of Liberia Electric Corporation
Published: Sun 05 May 2013

Access to power is extremely low at 20% which is critical when compared to global figures. This is due mainly to how the management of public utilities is conducted. This is according to Sahid Mohammed, CEO of Liberia Electric Corporation who says that Government-appointed management “does not seem to work well.” He says that these management teams usually lack accountability, transparency, capacity, and vision.

This model does not attract much-needed investor confidence. To improve this poor level of professionalism, Mr Mohammed suggests that government-run utilities hire experts for key positions through a bidding process. This private management contracting works well since compensation is performance based. The contractors work towards instilling sustainability.

The positions normally run for a three to five year period and once goals have been met and the utility is operating successfully, the contractors hand the utility back to the locals. Mr Mohammed says that there are successful models in Kenya, Liberia and Nigeria. He adds that there is plenty opportunity in the private-public sector in Africa which has yet to be realised. In conclusion, he points out that more focus must be placed on transmission and distribution issues in order to resolve Africa’s low access rate.