TBY talks to Abdullah Bin Said Al Badri, CEO of Muscat Electricity Distribution Company, on the state of the sector and moving toward privatization.

Abdullah Bin Said Al Badri
Abdullah Bin Said Al Badri has served as CEO of Muscat Electricity Distribution Company since 2012. In his career, spanning more than 20 years in the electricity sector, he has held various positions, the last of which was his appointment as General Manager of Mazoon Electricity Company (MZEC) in 2002. He played a major role in the establishment, evolution, and growth of MZEC until 2012.

How has the distribution system in Oman been improved since the restructuring of the electricity system in 2005?

The first year in which we moved from a vertically integrated industry to a single-buyer model was 2005. For the first time, there were new companies being established to conduct commercial operations. This was a major step forward in liberalizing the electricity supply industry and to have specialized companies for each function. Since then there have been major improvements on different fronts. From a human capital perspective, there has been an increase in the Omanization percentage YoY. There was an investment in educating Omanis and developing the people's capabilities. This is an ongoing obligation that we are taking forward because every time there is a new set of challenges arising and therefore we need to equip our people with the right sets of skills. In addition, over the recent years in the human resources domain, we have tried to take an approach of an integrated framework that took into consideration moving from the previous practices of managing HR into a competency based human capital management. This is a journey we are currently going through, although there has been a lot of work in the areas of competency assessment, framework and developing a personal and customized development plan for our own people. With the right competent people, we will make our companies to cope with challenges as meeting electricity demand and various stakeholder expectations.

What is your strategy to cater the rising demand for electricity in Muscat?

Muscat Electricity has also emphasized building capacity for execution, so our organizational structure is also under constant review to make it a more dynamic and effective tool for execution in terms of meeting the demand and in expanding the infrastructure. In the last three years, we have focused more on enhancing the customer experience and we have revisited what is outsourced within our companies. We have developed a strategy to enhance the customer experience that targets the existing customers and new customers to be added. The other area, which experienced a major improvement, was in health and safety. This was a challenge given the wide spread of our network across Muscat. There was a huge focus being put on health and safety in terms of competencies, policies, procedures, and resources. We enhanced the health and safety culture within our company and with our contractors, as well as the general public.

What initiatives are your introducing toward energy saving?

We have some license obligations and we are trying to fulfill them in terms of educating our customers on how to conserve their consumption. Whenever there are some major customers coming to us, we educate them on the measures they can take in terms of the building materials and the kind of the energy efficient equipment they can use. We have also signed a MoU with the Ministry of Education to work on this issue. Building that value of energy conservation within the children could be a long-term objective by inculcate the culture of energy efficiency and conservation. We do have some campaigns in schools and the Society of Women as well as in some sport clubs in order to raise awareness among the community. The government has recently approved cost-reflective tariffs targeting the high-value consumption segment of customers and we are also doing our best to educate our customers on how they can make the best of these cost-reflective tariffs in order to manage their demand in the off-peak hours and reduce the overall stress on peak growth. They get a reasonable tariff rate during the off-peak and in terms of the network the demand during the peak will also be reduced.

How is Muscat Electricity navigating toward its privatization?

We raised our capital at the beginning of 2016 and it was a step toward preparing the company for privatization. The intention of the government is to privatize or offload the share of 49% with an IPO through the Muscat Security Market. Privatization generally brings more efficiency in companies where it takes place, as there is an expectation from the shareholders that it will bring a more innovative approach toward handling the different challenges of the future, whether they are financial, regulatory, or customer expectations. We are working toward improving a wide number of those areas.