The Energy Minister, Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh has launched the PURC-GIMPA Center of Excellence in Public Utility Regulation (CEPUR).

The ceremony, which took place on the campus of GIMPA, on Tuesday, was under the theme, “Professionalism in the utility sector, key to Africa’s development.”

The Centre is an institutional collaboration between the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) and the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) to develop competencies and expertise in economic regulation for the electricity, water, natural gas sectors, and other public utility service sectors.

It will offer programmes leading to the award of certificates in diverse courses related to regulation and the management of electricity, water and natural gas sectors. The courses include; Introduction to utility regulation, advanced utility regulation, regulatory economics and modelling, utility management for optimal performance, among others.

It will also engage in cutting edge research for investment and policy decision making in the sectors of interest.

Launching the CEPUR, Dr Opoku Prempeh commended the Board, Management and staff of PURC for the initiative.

“This is both timely and relevant. It is timely because emerging dynamics in the energy sector including the energy transition and energy security concerns, require a competent and skilful workforce that is ready to help position Ghana and Africa to secure sustainable outcomes for future generations. My Ministry has already taken the lead in developing and implementing a road-map for energy transition in Ghana. The opening of this Centre will therefore provide the needed support to develop the skills necessary to achieve Africa’s energy vision.

“It is also relevant because, in most cases, Africa has been the consumer of research findings and emerging ideas led or written by researchers who may not have experienced the socio-political landscape of the continent. Given the pedigree of GIMPA and the quality of its faculty members, it is my expectation that the Center will become a thought-leader in developing innovative and breakthrough research on utility regulation across the continent and beyond,” the Energy Minister said.

He entreated policymakers, regulators, utility service providers, industry players, civil society organizations and the general public desirous of acquiring knowledge in the economics of regulation to make use of the Centre so as to build the expertise necessary to move the energy sector into the future.

Dr Opoku Prempeh also urged managers of  the GIMPA-PURC Centre of Excellence in Public Utility Regulation (CEPUR) to, “take the call to research seriously. You must find innovative and effective ways of collaborating with industry and the corporate world to engage in quality, strategic studies aimed at finding practical solutions to real issues and actualize research findings to develop our economy.”

For his part, the Executive Secretary of the PURC, Dr. Ishmael Ackah underscored the relevance of the centre.

He said, “Usually we travel abroad to learn from best practices to implement. What we fail to realise is that those best practices are based on the realities of those countries. Such realities are usually different from our realities as developing countries. It is therefore imperative that we develop our own benchmarks based on local realities to enhance utility regulation.”

“The Center of Excellence in Public Utility Regulation (CEPUR) will therefore ensure that we develop a human resource base with the requisite skills and competences going forward,” Dr. Ackah added.

The rector of GIMPA, Prof Samuel Kwaku Bonsu noted that the collaboration with PURC for the CEPUR forms part of the strategic goals of the Institute in terms of forging partnerships with relevant entities.

“The centre will be a leading point of ideas and policies to support not only Ghana’s PURC, but also similar institutions across continents. We at GIMPA are very proud of this initiative to enrich the intellectual environment for utilities regulation in Ghana and across the globe,” Prof Bonsu said.

He assured that, “GIMPA will do her best to ensure that this centre becomes the African leader on all matters related to utilities regulation.”

The occasion was also used to launch the very first Ghana Utility Performance Index (GUPI) for 2021 developed by PURC.

The Minister therefore urged all regulatory utility service providers to take this exercise seriously to aid excellence in service delivery to customers.

“The Ghana Utility Performance Index, or simply GUPI, is an aggregated performance index computed to assess the performance of Ghana’s electricity and water utilities across their operational areas and regions. It is important to note that the construction of this index is part of PURC’s regulatory efforts aimed at promoting a robust, competitive, and efficient electricity and water utility sectors.

"GUPI therefore builds on PURC’s existing utility performance analysis through regulatory auditing and monitoring techniques, by evaluating the overall performance of specific regional and operational areas of Ghana’s electricity and water utilities,” the Executive Secretary explained.

According to him. “the GUPI evaluates, computes, and ranks the performance of all these regional utilities taking into account the utility’s performance against a scoring criterion developed in line with key regulatory indicators. The index was developed using a set of 11 indicators for the electricity sector, and 12 indicators for the water sector. These indicators were selected from PURC’s key performance regulatory indicators and existing Legislative Instruments for monitoring quality of services of the utilities.”

This inaugural edition assessed the performance of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) across its 7 operational regions and one strategic business unit, the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo) across its 5 operational areas, and for Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) across its 13 operational regions.

Dr. Ackah revealed that “the results of the 2021 Ghana Utilities Performance Index showed that the utilities assessed exhibited varied levels of performance across the different indicators, and along regional lines.

"For the electricity sector, it was observed that regions that achieved the highest levels of performance had implemented and undertaken revenue mobilization drives, high fault maintenance regimes, and were cost efficient. For the water sector, high performing operational areas witnessed high water quality levels, cost efficiency, and high consumer responsiveness.”

Touching on the advantages of the GUPI he stated that, “first, it will help utilities to decide the direction of their investments towards improving service delivery.   Second, the results of the index would enable regulators identify areas of focus for future auditing and monitoring activities, towards enhancing the performance of the utilities. Third, data on the GUPI will be published and made available for research and policy relevant studies that will help improve the sectors.”

Dr. Ackah noted that it is the expectation of the Commission that the results would promote peer learning and efficiency among the utilities, with the objective of making consumers gain higher value for money.

DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.

DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.