The student who studies in the evening and the hospital that must operate around the clock have one thing in common: they need electricity. More than two years after the 2010 earthquake, Haiti's energy supply remains a significant challenge.
“EDH van kouran, EDH pa fe kado kouran” (EDH sells electricity, EDH does not give away electricity) can be read on the shirts of participants at an awareness-raising activity in Cayes on the need to pay electricity bills. Haiti’s electricity company [L’Electricité d’Haïti EDH], the largest State-run enterprise, which constitutionally has a monopoly to sell electricity, is trying to explain to Haitians that the EDH is a commercial enterprise that risks bankruptcy if it doesn’t generate revenue.
“This is a sales office of the EDH, but the clients don’t understand this,” explains Mr. Balde, manager of the Pétionville office.
In order to provide ongoing service to citizens, the State must subsidize the EDH with about US$200 million per year. The shortfalls in the enterprise’s revenues have a disastrous effect on the maintenance and much needed expansion of the networks.
Since 2006, the World Bank has sought to improve the quality of electricity supply and strengthen the financial and operational management of the EDH through the Electricity Loss Reduction Project (Projet de Réduction des Pertes du Secteur Electrique PREPSEL).
PREPSEL is expected to be strengthened by the end of the year through substantial additional World Bank assistance to the energy sector.
Strengthening a business approach to reduce losses
Energy is one of the five “Es” of the government’s program (along with Environment, Employment, Education, and Establishment of the rule of law) and it needs resources to boost investments and the reconstruction effort. In this context, PREPSEL seeks to improve the output of the EDH through better business management and a client-centered approach.
Since 2011, PREPSEL has facilitated the establishment of a computerized Business Management System (Système de Gestion Commerciale SGC) at the company’s headquarters and at each sales office in the metropolitan area. Long-distance communication via the Internet is helping to improve client service, reduce the processing time for requests, and correct problems more quickly.
“Because of the SGC, clients’ monthly bills can be generated in real time rather than every two or three months, as happened under the old management system,” confirmed Mr. Balde.
The work on the ground is, however, a long-term undertaking for which staff is expected to receive ongoing training.