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Operations & Management

Operations and Management
Generally, Infrastructure and Public Utilities in developing countries face enormous challenges in meeting the needs of their growing populations, and over time, the demand for such infrastructure and related services has continuously outstripped the capacity to supply and the ability to provide a universal service.

The majority of Public Utilities are characterized by a vicious cycle of “low tariffs, low efficiency, high cost, aging and poorly maintained infrastructure, inadequate resources, short term planning, low service quality, low customer esteem and support; and above all, a high level of both technical and commercial losses in their networks.

And as a result, much of the losses which represent a significant portion of their operating cost is simply lost instead of serving the needs more consumers and businesses, and earning revenue for the utilities. And in the case of water utilities for instance, water leakages represent a potential health hazard, with many outbreaks of waterborne diseases often attributed to water contamination at leaking points along the distribution network.

Improved management efficiencies in the operation of public utilities and their infrastructure at the local level, coupled with enabling robust sectoral policies and effective reforms at the state level, could, to some extent, assist in increasing operational efficiencies and in turn, enhance the financial viability and meet increasing demand on public utilities infrastructure.

However, it remains evident that the lack of commercial orientation has eroded the financial and operational capacity of most public utilities, resulting in underinvestment in operations and maintenance. Whilst existing assets, acquired at considerable cost, are allowed to deteriorate even as new investments are made.

Under our operations and management expertise, we address the issues of introducing commercial management principles in the operations of public utilities, as part of the ongoing public utilities reforms introduced by many governments. These commercial management principles include the principles of: Business Planning and Strategic Business Planning, Performance Management and Benchmarking, Performance Improvement Planning, Operation and Maintenance Strategies, Asset Management and Capital Investment Planning.

Asset Management

Like in many other industries, the operation and effective management of infrastructure and public utilities industry relies solely on the level and quality of information that managers, policy makers and regulators have available on both the supply and on the demand side of each of these sectors.

The supply side deals with those activities related to the location, development and exploitation of new public utilities infrastructure, and the demand side addresses mechanisms to promote more sustainable levels and patterns of their uses. And, Infrastructure sector planning and development integrate the two sides and form the basis for decision making, using data and information available on the very sector.

In addition to a weak systemic institutional framework which characterizes most countries in Sub Sahara Africa (SSA), the management of the public utilities infrastructure sectors is carried out in an environment marked by – the lack of key data, and by – the inexistence of analytical platforms that should support decisions on planning and development of public utilities infrastructure sectors assets.

In these countries, data and information on these sectors are very sketchy, if not inexistent, and where available, they are scattered across several ministries, thus making their analysis often difficult due to the lack of standardization.

Further, the knowledge of the quantity and quality of public utilities infrastructure assets is inexistent or inadequate with often unreliable data. The resources allocated for collecting and processing basic technical data are insufficient. Collection is neither systematic nor regular, and above all there are no basic central databases to guide management decisions.

As a result, Public Utilities and their infrastructures in these countries face serious difficulties caused by the failures in planning and development. These failures include and are mostly reflected by the lack of coordination in decisions making, the inability to plan strategically for meeting and managing conflicting demands, poor allocation and timing of required resources, and most importantly low ratios of coverage/density and access to public utilities services.

However, if Public Utilities institutional reforms in SSA countries are aimed at addressing the systemic institutional weaknesses within these sectors; the lack of key data, information and analytical platforms to support decisions remains yet a major deficiency that needs to be addressed now as a major priority.

Our Expertise in Asset Management addresses the problematic faced by Public Utilities sector policy makers, operators and regulators in respect of planning and developing assets that should guarantee increased coverage and access to public utilities services, in order to meet the targets set in the various visions, including the MDG, the Africa Water Vision, and in the respective national PRSPs.

We provide strategic insight underpinned by a crucial body of knowledge of the key data, tools and supporting platforms that are available to inform decisions on planning, development, financing and management of assets on which depends the delivery of public utilities services. Asset Register, GIS Systems, Capital Investment Planning etc…, are some of the areas of our expertise.