General Musings

Kenya Power: Help Us Help You!

Kenya Ingependa Kumeta. I propose this as a working slogan as you forge your way to efficiency, oh dear transmitter, distributor and retailer of electricity. You see, Kenya Yameta essentially is untrue; makes for a better fit alongside your Vision 2030 strategic plans.


 (Image Courtesy of Eugene Nyawara)

Your MD came under fire the other day, and to the question of whether you are a monopoly, he so kindly informed us that it is not so: charcoal, gas and paraffin, to name a few, are your competitors. Left us in shock and dismay, sample some of our tweets here. I,for one, didn’t know that it was #TheTrend, to power devices and light homes using charcoal! Seeing as we were all tuned in to hear him address our ELECTRICITY needs, that curveball was either well thought out, or a case of foot-in-mouth!

Is this what you meant, Engineer Njoroge? via Yellow

Allow me to hit the ‘save draft’ button before I proceed, see, I don’t know how to use charcoal,paraffin,gas or even candles, to charge my laptop…

We are very much aware that there’s the issue of vandalism, and trees that fall on electricity lines, and rain and thunderstorms, and your own electricity poles caving in to decay… none of these sound unique to me.

I’m not here to point out the obvious though, I’m here to offer constructive criticism and practical tips. I’d like to believe I speak for a few other Kenyans who just want to be guaranteed communication and information pertaining to our electricity supply.

You have heard about the internet. Yes? Good. In fact, I see you have a functioning website, and are even on twitter and facebook!  Pray,tell, whose lovely photo is that, depicting a well-lit Nairobi (a rarity,all thanks to you)? I see y’all know your way about the interwebs! *Clap for yourselves*

I even see an invite to connect to the world via your fibre optic network(hitherto unbeknownst to me)…. if I can’t rely on you to keep my laptop charged, how then should I connect with the rest of the world? And apparently this has been around for a good minute?I digress…

Quick lesson on how web 2.0 works. This is informed purely by the fact that you have embraced it, set up accounts, uploaded cover images etc. You wonder why all the backlash and frustration from Kenyans online? You give us an inch, we take a mile. It’s the way of the social web!

1. It’s all about CONVERSATION. It’s not just about disseminating bucketloads of press releases, and praises lauded to your company. No. We already have the newspapers and tv/radio ads for that. The social web is hinged around conversing,two-way communication! In your case, it’s with primarily dissatisfied customers,fortunately or unfortunately. Also, your hotlines hardly ever go through, piling on to the frustration!  And even if you want to bombard us with all that’s good with your company(granted, you guys are probably the only ones who see it), room for conversation around that must be created.

No one promises you that it’ll be easy to engage in conversation. If,by some miracle, you truly embrace the way of the social web, you will be dealing not only with a backlog of angst but also fresh bursts of it. And with more of your customers coming online, it will get worse before it gets better. Just ask Safaricom.

Converse with us on:

  • What’s happening on the ground. So some of our brothers and sisters are vandalising transformers. They reside among us, heck, they could be tweeting #KenyaPowerSongs with the rest of us. We are more inclined to feel that you deserve the setbacks, we could thank karma for the inconvenience served you, even though it inconveniences us as well…a catch 22. So you tweeted about the vandalism issue. My immediate reaction given the status quo is ‘so what?‘ (Read: indifference)
  • What’s going to be happening. Your planned power interruptions especially. On the public information page on your website ,you advise that the interruption ads are posted online on a daily. Below is a visit to the page on 29th April 2012.
 I religiously visit that page, hardly updated, never mind the leading statement;one has to painstakingly download >1MB PDFs to find out if they should go back to figuring out how to charge their laptop using charcoal. Sigh.

You’d be surprised how long a way it would go to reducing your cost of newspaper ads. Even the government is favouring digital advertising, and use of its own websites to share pertinent information. I should probably applaude you for trying, but it’s the ‘at least we tried‘ culture that we are trying to quel.

  • The PDFs must go! Share the interruption plans on HTML. Customize them for search by region:county,city/town/estate. Dump a link on Twitter and Facebook,  schedule a message to remind us when to check for:

Here’s the fun part. It only but costs your time to do that!

  • Millions upon millions of your customers access the internet using a mobile phone. Facebook and Twitter are leading points of access of information regarding your services. (I won’t even go into optimizing your site for mobile, let’s steer away from that direction for a minute.) 26 million people, who rely on your services to charge their phones to access the internet. I’m willing to bet that soon, the numbers reached via your ads on the dailies will pale in comparison with the potential that the mobile web presents!!
  • Not only that, but Facebook and Twitter are about sharing. Information can go viral. If not convinced,have a look at the Kenya Power(less) online mentions when blackouts occur. Disburse information about your services, or the notorious lack of them thereof, word will get round. We will whine, we will curse, but we will be informed!!!

2. It also is about COMMUNITY and COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE. Underneath the layer of hateration and anger, we are a creative, innovative lot. You never know what we could offer to better your company. Ideas are a dime-a-dozen. Who knows? Appease us, and we could invent contraptions to fry the vandalists’ asses next time they attempt to thug a transformer! We have vested interests in the security of our power transmission, but right now, we don’t care too much to help.

  • For instance, on a very rare and memorable conversation with the person behind your twitter account, I got to learn that street lighting is primarily the work of city and municipal councils, that yours is to supply electricity. Seeing as we,the people, your customers, your employers(you never know, we could decide to fully go charcoal, wouldn’t it reflect on your profit margins?), are the primary beneficiaries, we could rally ourselves to find ways to lobby for CCN(City Council of Nairobi), for instance, to enforce street lighting. That alone, would make the repeat offenders a bit more wary. All public services are intertwined and they go hand-in-hand.
I could go on and on, trust me, I could. I also advice generating a FAQ list, crowdsource it.(Top of the list: Why the guarantee of power blackouts at the first sight of rain?)
The MD promised to respond to (all) our tweets and questions raised during his apprearance on NTV’s #TheTrend. We are waiting. (Please don’t make the responses yet another Vision 2030 plan.#TheTrend on the social web is to respond to queries, no matter how uncomfortable they make you.)
Help us help you, ili Kenya Imete!!!