Treasury pushes out Kenya Power board chair Vivienne Yeda

Treasury CS Njuguna Ndungu addressing the media at his office in Nairobi on November 10, 2022. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Kenya Power board Chairperson Vivienne Yeda is set to leave the firm mid-December after two and a half years at the helm of the electricity retailer.

The company Wednesday said Yeda had notified the board of directors that she wished to quit.

However, a National Treasury letter to the company indicates that she may have been pushed out of the board.

In a notice to shareholders Wednesday inviting them to the company's annual general meeting to be held on December 16, Kenya Power said Yeda would no longer serve as director of the firm after the shareholder meeting.

"Ms Vivienne Yeda has given notice of retirement as director with effect from the date of the annual general meeting," said Kenya Power in the AGM notice.

It appears that while Yeda has chosen to quit, she may have been on her way out with the new administration demanding her exit from the board.

In a November 18 letter, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung'u directed Kenya Power's board to include a special notice recommending her removal at the AGM.

"As a shareholder with 50.1 per cent in the Kenya Power and Lighting Company Plc, we require the board of directors of the company to table before the AGM an ordinary resolution for the removal of directors pursuant to Article 129 of the company's memorandum and articles of association," said Prof Ndung'u.

"The special notice is to be included in the agenda for the company's 101 AGM to be held by December 31 and shall recommend the removal of Ms Yeda as a director of the company."

Other than Yeda, another director who has also decided to call it quits is Yida Kemoli, who, according to the AGM notice, will not offer himself for re-election during the shareholder meeting.

Kenya Power board Chairperson Vivienne Yeda during the Company's 100th AGM held on Friday, December 3, 2021. [File, Standard]

Directors who have recently been appointed to replace those have quit the board over time will be offering themselves for election.

Sarah Mbwaya and James Gitiba were appointed as directors on July 26, while former Chief Justice Aaron Ringera was appointed as director on August 24.

The recently appointed board members replaced directors who have quit in the recent past under unclear circumstances.

Elizabeth Rogo, Abdulrazaq Ali and Caroline Kittony-Waiyaki left in May while Sachen Gudka left the firm's board in December last year.

The company then said those that left were pursuing other interests.

Yeda joined Kenya Power as director in July 2020 and was elected to chair the board in December of the same during the company's AGM.

She was appointed to the board alongside another four directors, who were replacing another set of directors who had resigned from the board - again under unclear circumstances.

Over the two and a half years that Yeda has chaired the board, it has been involved in numerous fights, in which different parties claimed that the directors were acting contrary to the interests of the company.

The accusation have ranged from taking over running of the company, owing to frequent board meetings, to allegations of procurement malpractice.

The board has been summoned by parliamentary committees several times over these matters while the directors at some point recorded statements with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) over claims of procurement malpractices at the firm.

The board has also made headlines following actions that were favourable to consumers, such as when it announced it would shelve the push for a tariff hike and would instead work on internal processes and generate savings.

This is, however, now up for consideration with the tariff having been last reviewed in 2018.

Under Yeda's watch, a turnaround plan that the company has been implementing appears to be bearing fruit.

The company's financial report in October showed its net profit for the year to June 2022 grew 134.8 per cent to Sh3.5 billion from Sh1.49 billion the previous year.

The turnaround plan was to return Kenya Power to profitability after it started making losses in 2020, when it reported a net loss of Sh939 million.

While the electricity distributor may have turned back to profit, its financial position is still in the red with a negative working capital, with liabilities at Sh110.43 billion exceeding its current assets at Sh54.69 billion over the year to June 2022.

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