Power sector agencies in limbo as search for new CEOs drags on

The Geothermal Development Company (GDC) board sent its chief executive Jared Othieno on terminal leave last week, pending the end of his three-year contract at the helm of the firm.

The company joins other State-owned firms in the electricity sector that are without substantial chief executive officers (CEOs), following their departure under different circumstances.

Kenya Power, KenGen and the Kenya Electricity Transmission Company (Ketraco) are all searching for new bosses.

Kenya Power and Ketraco have gone for more than a year now without substantive chief executives. GDC appointed Paul Ngugi as acting chief executive and had a week earlier kicked off the search for a new boss.

Mr Othieno, an energy sector insider who had previously worked with Kenya Power, joined the firm in April 2020.

Kenya Power has been without a substantive boss for more than a year and a half, following the exit of Bernard Ngugi in August 2021.

Power distributor

Following the exit, the power distributor named Eng Rosemary Oduor as interim boss. In May last year, the firm replaced Ms Oduor with Eng Geoffrey Muli, also in an acting capacity.

The matter was among the audit queries by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu in the financial year to June 2022.

In her report, Ms Gathungu noted that Kenya Power hired a consultant in January this year to recruit a new chief executive.

The consultant - Deloitte - handed its report on the process to the board, including the recommended candidates, but the board failed to conclude the process.

The Auditor General said in her report the exercise was a waste of resources since the company is yet to appoint a new chief executive. "During the year under review, the board of directors through management engaged a consultancy firm to undertake the recruitment of the company managing director through a contract signed January 27, 2022," said Ms Gathungu.

"The consultant in a letter dated May 6, 2022, indicated that it had concluded the recruitment process and presented the results of screening, and final interview and recommended candidates for consideration to the chairpersons of the board of directors and was paid the full contract price of Sh2.99 million."

Ketraco, on the other hand, has been without a substantive boss for a year after the then-chief executive Fernandes Baraza quit in February last year to pursue politics.

Mr Baraza was consequently elected Kakamega Governor in last year's General Election.

Ketraco named Eng Isaac Kiva as acting chief executive in January this year, replacing Eng Anthony Wamukota who had taken over from Mr Barasa, also in an acting capacity.

KenGen is also searching for a new managing director following the appointment of Rebecca Miano to the Cabinet as Cabinet Secretary for East African Community, Arid and Semir-Arid Lands, and Regional Development.

The firm appointed Abraham Serem as acting CEO in October.

Other than the management, the boards of these entities have also seen some directors leave as the new Kenya Kwanza regime moves to stamp its authority on the energy sector. At Ketraco, President William Ruto in January appointed Abdi Bare Duale as board chairman.

Kenya Power has also seen changes on its board, with the entry of Joy Brenda Masinde as chairperson following the exit of Vivienne Yeda. Other new members of the Kenya Power board include Dr Duncan Ojwang, Eng Albert Mugo, Logan Christi and Veska Kangogo alongside Treasury Cabinet Secretary Prof Njuguna Ndung'u and Energy Principal Secretary Alex Wachira.

KenGen in late February also appointed Julius Migos Ogamba as its new chairman, replacing Samson Mwathethe who had served in the position since November 2020.

The firm also announced the appointment of Josephine Koisaba, Stephen Mutai and William Rahedi as new independent and non-executive directors of the board with effect from February 28.

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