By Josef Kefas Sheehama
Hon. Tom Alweendo, the minister of mines and energy, gave Ongos Valley permission to run an electrical distribution business inside of its housing complex. Because it believed the ministry did not follow all essential procedures before granting Ongos Valley the right to operate, the Local Municipality intends to appeal the decision.
Additionally, the municipality argued that granting the proposal would cost the Council money and set a negative precedent because the Council had previously turned down requests from housing projects to operate and maintain their energy infrastructures. To hold the electrical assets and run the power distribution company within the township, the Ongos Valley Development plans to create an Ongos Valley Development Electricity Distribution Company. Ongos Valley is a mixed-use township located 14 kilometres away from the city centre, which is targeting to build a total of 28,000 housing units in 20 years. Hence, the path to lower costs requires allowing new companies to form, rather than fighting those new incorporations. What this means for the City of Windhoek is that we should welcome the incorporation of Ongos, and any other area in which residents wish to establish their own distribution companies. It would increase consumer choice and force existing local authorities to provide better service at a lower cost, a win-win scenario for all people.
Due to potential sound economic policies adopted by the Namibian government, we commend the Hon. Tom Alweendo for this wonderful progress. The Honourable Tom Alweendo recently disclosed that the government intends to abolish the Namcor levy by removing the fuel tax, which will open up a greater selection of reduced options at the pump. Few people pass up the chance to criticize the government on a variety of problems. It’s also necessary to express gratitude to the administration for its unceasing efforts to advance the nation. The government makes all decisions pertaining to the well-being of the country. Everyone must promote the national interest. Development cannot be political football. Discussions on what is best for our communities should be civil. Let’s put our political disagreements aside and continue to create Namibia as a team.
Moreover, the City of Windhoek cannot decide for us. Monopoly is not helpful for the social and economic development of a country. The monopoly concentration of economic power, profiteering and growth of unfair trade practices such as hoarding amongst other things. The municipality must be managed like business if they are to succeed. Any company that wants to know how its revenue is generated and how it is made up must have a revenue model in place. Understanding how this money is produced and the crucial levers of the revenue value chain that need to be carefully handled are crucial. Like in any organization, knowing your product lines and how well they sell is essential to carrying out your sales strategy and generating the necessary revenue. In order to adopt the required legislative and institutional changes and boost revenue, they should also garner support from urban residents. We cannot allow the City of Windhoek to create entry barriers, try to eliminate competitors and prevent the entry of Ongos. We cannot allow our interests greatly affected because of the growth of monopoly. We need to have a choice.
For much the same reason, competition leads to better governance. In choosing where to live, people can compare local authority services and new entities. The competition will prevent local authorities from exerting substantial monopoly power over residents. Greater market competition matters for achieving greater innovation, productivity, and economic growth. Market competition is based on the principle that businesses with the most efficient production and the most value for consumers should and will prevail. When businesses compete with each other, consumers get the best possible prices, quantity, and quality of goods and services. The competition in the distribution has improved the performance of the power sector through enhanced efficiencies, reduction of losses, better customer service, and improved management. The enhanced competition in the electrical business is beneficial from the perspectives of both business and the environment. For consumers, increased competition means more decision-making power, choices, and lower costs with enhanced quality. More choices for the consumer would lead to a more cost-effective power supply through competitive tariffs and also improved customer interface. Dedicated roles and responsibilities of Ongos would lead to improvement in efficiency and quality of power and price reduction. It shall shepherd customer satisfaction and shall simulate a competitive framework for delivering real value to consumers and other stakeholders. Nevertheless, there is a lot of scope for competition improvement in power distribution and that change for brighter future prospects is also clearly underway. The Mines and Energy ministry’s policies are quickly adapting to evolving needs, to ensure more retail competition with relaxed entry and participation.
Therefore, the City of Windhoek and Ongos Valley should collaborate instead of taking the parties to court. There is a need for better management of inter-jurisdictional collaboration between the players. The complex developmental problems that Namibia faces cannot be solved with local municipalities operating in isolation. Public-private partnerships may also provide valuable opportunities. These could, for example, help improve the management, expansion, maintenance and operation of select revenue-generating components of service delivery. The City of Windhoek should take note that synergy make business sense to manage certain jobs. Many may need technical support. These initiatives should be planned well and should not be the consequence of inadequate capacity or skills within municipality. These considerations could contribute to better outcomes and improved service delivery.
To this end, the important developmental role that Ongos Valley Development Electricity Distribution can play in creating employment and stimulating economic growth suggest that these areas in particular should be prioritized.
The regulatory system should enhance rather than paralyze service delivery.