Erongo RED to face challenges head-onBy: CATHERINE SASMAN
THE price of electricity is too high.
This was the resounding message from the recent road show of electricity distributor Erongo RED across the region to communicate with its consumers.
The exorbitant price of power hampers the development of home industries, said the chairman of the the Erongo RED, Coenraad Botha, in an interview with The Namibian.
“If we can have electricity in every household in the Erongo Region at an affordable price, then people can go forward. It will empower so many people because it would allow people to run a small and medium enterprise from their homes. Currently many people cannot,” said Botha.
The regional electricity distributors (REDs) of Erongo, Nored and Cenored earlier this year lobbied Government to exempt them from income tax and to consider an infrastructure levy on electricity purchases in their distribution areas in an attempt to provide cheaper services to their clients.
Botha said the constant and unabated increase in prices of goods and services without considering alternative solutions is unsustainable.
“If this is the way we are going then there is no future for this country and for that matter, for the world,” he emphasised.
The road show visited Kuisebmond in Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Henties Bay, Karibib, Usakos, Arandis, Uis, Omatjete, Otjimbingwe and Okombahe in June and July.
“The roadshow opened my eyes,” said Botha.
General concerns expressed by members of the public were that the RED tariffs are different from those charged by municipalities, and requests were made for more intensified rural electrification especially at Ondjouombaranga in the Otjimbingwe area, as well as for the prompt installation of pre-paid meters.
The Erongo RED will set up a call centre at the Erongo RED head office in Walvis Bay by the end of November, which Botha said is intended to improve service delivery.
This call centre will allow clients throughout the region to make account queries and to report power disruptions. Technicians will be dispatched through the call centre to attend to power outages.
As Erongo RED currently has nine different shareholders, of which one has about 50 percent and others have as little as two percent of the shares, there is always the problem of how to apportion representation on the board, Botha said.
An ideal scenario, Botha said, would be to have competent and well-equipped people with the right skills on the board instead of focusing on representation per shareholder.
“You normally have a tendency where municipalities prefer to send their own people from their councils, which means that you create a board of politicians. I believe there must be politicians on the boards to have somebody who knows the heart of the voters. But I believe there must be people with business acumen and professional people who understand the electricity industry as well.”
The shareholders’ representation will be discussed and agreed upon at a shareholders’ meeting in October and he believes an amicable solution will be found.
REDs are currently governed by the Companies Act, which prompted Botha to suggest that an Act be adopted to bring the REDs under the control of either the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, or the Ministry of Mines and Energy.