The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) embarked on a visit to the regional offices of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) in the Greater Accra Region from July 4-7, 2023. This is part of a series of engagements being undertaken by the Executive Secretary of PURC with regional offices of the regulated utilities across the country. The purpose of these visits is to engage the utilities and to discuss their operations, performance, challenges, and initiatives undertaken to improve the provision of services to customers and consumers at large. Offices visited in the region include Accra East and West offices of ECG and GWCL, and the Tema Region of ECG and GWCL.
The PURC team, led by its Executive Secretary, Dr. Ishmael Ackah, was warmly welcomed by the ECG and GWCL regional managers and their management teams. In his opening remarks, Dr. Ishmael Ackah indicated that the Commission is committed to regularly engaging the Utility Service Providers to discuss issues that are pertinent to the electricity and water sectors, and to strengthen collaborations between the Commission and Service Providers. He indicated that, as part of its operational efficiency, the Commission in the year 2023, is focusing on three key areas of Education, Engagement and Enforcement.
Presentations were made by the Service Providers, highlighting their operations, achievements, and challenges they encounter in providing reliable services to consumers in the region. The challenges highlighted by the Utility Service Providers include illegal connections, meter theft, destruction of service infrastructure, and customers’ failure to pay utility bills. Following the presentations, the PURC team, based on the analysis of available utility regulatory data, highlighted four areas of concern to be addressed with respect to operations of the ECG and GWCL. These are customer engagement and or education, losses, enforcement, and documentation.
In the area of customer engagement and education, the ECG and GWCL teams were entreated to intensify their communication with customers to ensure that they are well informed on issues such as the implementation of new policies, scheduled maintenance, and unplanned power outages among others. This would help to foster a good relationship between the Service Providers and consumers.
The PURC team advised the Service Providers to implement measures to reduce their losses in line with the PURC benchmarks. They were encouraged to intensify their efforts in metering customers and serving detailed utility bills regularly to improve revenue collection while ensuring that vending centres and payment platforms are operational and available to consumers. The installation of regional boundary meters was also outlined to accurately measure distribution losses at the entry and exit points to reduce estimation. In the case of GWCL, metering of fire hydrants was suggested to help monitor and control water use during emergencies and to reduce losses from non-revenue water.
The team further highlighted the need for the Service Providers to properly document their operations in areas such as project completions, near misses, and the preparation of metering audit reports to enhance data collection analysis and also ensure safety. The ECG and GWCL teams were encouraged to handle criminal cases such as power theft in line with the law by following due process and conducting thorough investigations and data collection on each case.
To conclude the discussions, a summary of the 2021 performance of each ECG and GWCL regional office visited was presented, highlighting key performance indicators analysed in the Ghana Utility Performance Index (GUPI), which was published by the Commission in 2022. This was to commend them in areas of high performance and to help identify low-performance areas for improvements.
At the end of the visits, ECG and GWCL regional teams expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to engage the PURC and indicated their readiness to tackle all the shortfalls and concerns that were identified during the engagements. The PURC team also expressed their gratitude to the Utilities for their openness and willingness to address the challenges they faced. They assured the utilities that their concerns would be taken into consideration, and collaborative efforts would be made to improve the services provided to the citizens of Ghana.
Members of the PURC team who embarked on the visits include Dr. Ishmael Ackah, Executive Secretary; Alhaji Abukari Jabaru, Director of Regional Operations and Consumer Services; Ing. Frederick Oblitey, Director of Energy Services
and Performance Monitoring; Dr. Eric Obutey, Director Research, and Corporate Affairs; Mr. Leon Acquaye, Head of Complaints Regional Operations and Consumer Services Directorate; Mrs. Gifty Bruce-Nelson, Accra Regional Manager; Mr. Charles J. W. Biney, Research and Corporate Affairs; and Mr. Ephraim Atuburoah, Executive Secretary’s Office.
|Meeting with ECG Accra East Regional Office||Meeting with GWCL Accra East Office|
|Engagement with GWCL Accra West Regional Office|
|Interaction with ECG Tema Regional Office||Meeting with GWCL Tema Regional Office|
|Engagement with ECG Accra West Regional Office||PURC team observing an ECG staff assist a customer|