MOVE AT THE SPEED

Jamaica 2018 | ENERGY & MINING | COLUMN

TBY talks to Ansord Hewitt, Director General, Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), on the sector.

Ansord Hewitt

What is OUR's role within the Jamaican economy?

OUR is a multi-sector regulator: telecommunications, electricity, water, and sewage. It is vital for OUR to operate in a way that boosts the confidence of investors, ensures that the interests of utility consumers are protected, and that there is fair and transparent decision-making consistent with the legal framework in which we operate. As a country moves to more of a market economy, it also needs to provide consumers with the assurance that someone is watching and that they are not being taken advantage of, a role that OUR has also played. At the same time, we see ourselves first as a facilitator of investment, protector of the interests of the public, and an agency that is critical to ensuring utilities provision become more efficient and modern.

What challenges do you face in the water sector?

Our major concern with water is that access still needs to be expanded; however, the National Water Commission (NWC) loses almost 70% of the water it produces. For almost a decade we have financed the NWC to help it make the network investments to reduce losses. The company has failed to move at the speed we anticipated; however, we see encouraging progress of certain initiatives.