Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Hollow Words Darken ECG’s Vision

Red Auerbach, one of America’s most prominent basketball coaches, observed that “the only correct actions are those that demand no explanation and no apology”. Somebody ought to be kind enough to bring this piece of wisdom to the attention of Ghana’s monopoly electricity company which these days, produces more regrets and apologies than actual electricity. Another advice for the management of ECG is to match words with deeds.

I humbly invite you, dear reader, to come with me on a journey through ECG’s website and gape at the wide chasm between words and deeds. In fact, I wish to help ECG to make some amendments to parts of its website in the company’s own interest because it will be far easier for ECG to amend the lofty declarations on its website to reflect its real actions and capabilities. This is what the ECG’s website says is its vision:  

To achieve customer satisfaction by providing services which fully meet the expectations of our customers.

I knout that somebody at management level at ECG probably has a keen sense of irony but customer satisfaction as ECG’s vision is uproariously funny. I don’t believe that ECG will recognise customer satisfaction if it came face to face with it at high noon. Now, listen to what ECG says is its mission, but please don’t laugh too hard otherwise you will split your side. Here we go – Mission Statement:

 To provide quality, reliable and safe electricity services to support economic growth and development of Ghana.” 

This is pure fantasy, but it gets better with what ECG says is its Values Statement (note the capital letters): We are passionate about our customers. OUCH!

Personally, I don’t think I can take any more of this absolute drivel but if fantasy is your kind of diversion, you can see more of this daydreaming on their website. My point is this: knowing that it renders appalling service at best, ECG could at least speak the truth. Its Mission Statement ought to read something like:”To undermine Ghana’s economic development and increase the personal misery of Ghanaians by providing lousy and unreliable electricity to most of our victims”. At least with such a factual statement, ECG will enhance its credibility which at the moment lies in tatters.

The real irony is that people in ECG’s management probably believe the meaningless platitudes on its website because to organisations such as ECG, the customer exists as an abstract notion so they are unaware of the impact of their action and inactions on real human beings such as me. This is why I am happy to tell them my story.

I am an ECG victim; needless to say, I pay a lot of money for the privilege. Where I live, we suffer the indignity and oppression of power cuts at least once every day, and if it is a weekend then it goes without saying that at least a couple of power cuts will occur in the course of every single evening. There are no announcements before and no apologies ever after these power cuts. Sometimes I call ECG’s helpline even though I know it is futile but just to do something, anything. A disembodied voice answers promptly – you have to give the devil his due – but always and always it says the same thing: “Sorry about this but the engineers are working on it la la la.” Perhaps, ECG has just programmed a response voice to utter this completely meaningless sentence.

The impact of these power cuts has been immensely disruptive. It is impossible to plan anything with any degree of confidence. You cannot tell when the power will go so you cannot invite friends, family or colleagues around for any socializing; you cannot plan to write because you don’t know when the power will disappear and how long the computer battery will last… you don’t know when the next power cut will prevent you from using any power utensils in the kitchen, or watch television or listen to the radio.

The moment the electricity goes off, I either have to abandon my house or close every possible gap in every wall because my next door neighbour starts a generator which can supply power to a sizeable village. For health reasons, I am unable to tolerate the smoke spewed by this humongous generator; not to speak of the noise. In short, where I live, one has no life because of ECG’s incompetence and its nonchalance attitude to the hand that feeds it; yes, mine is the hand that feeds ECG just like yours.

Here is a question: What would you do if you handed your money over to me expecting me to perform a service but I failed to deliver every time? Would you continue to pay me more money? The answer is obvious. Only a fool would be parted from his or her money in such careless fashion. On this ground, I don’t know what to call the majority of Ghanaians who ever so often hand over precious money to the Electricity Company of Ghana despite the repeated failures of the company to fulfill its side of the bargain. Better still, I don’t know how ECG bosses see us – perhaps as suckers for handing over our monies to them and been paid misery in return. Why do we allow it to happen? The answer is that we are powerless to do anything apart from giving it to God; and they know it.

However, it need not be this way. ECG has a boss who has accepted the responsibility to ensure that customers receive a service, so when the boss fails, he or she must be held accountable. Come to think of it: we spend a lot of money and effort to select our members of parliament who in the short term, have only a marginal impact on our lives but when we deem them to have failed we remove them after four years. The boss of ECG has an immediate and profound impact on our lives but he/she is not even vetted by parliament for appointment so we have no say in how long this boss stays in office whether he or she performs well or not.

That must change. Is anything stopping Parliament from vetting the bosses of state-owned enterprises as part of their appointment processes, or even a public forum at which the appointees spell out their actual vision and the benchmarks by which to evaluate them? For example, the boss of ECG could be asked to tell the nation how many power cuts would be normal in a year and if he/she said 365, then I would know that at the current rate, ECG is on course otherwise it would be within my rights to seek redress, and please dear Lord, let no one mention PURC, I beg.

As for ECG’s vision, well, it looks rather clouded.


Ghana’s first ever world boxing champion David Kotey, popularly called D.K. Poison, is a man who brought joy and prestige to Ghana in the mid-1970s when he became the first Ghanaian to win a world boxing title. At the age of 60, Kotey is a broken and bitter man, but he is not asking for charity and handouts but justice and his money.

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