Journey over time: How KESC evolved into K-Electric

Electricity utility launches book on its history called ‘From KESC to K-Electric — A Company Reborn’

YUSRA SALIM January 26, 2015
Electricity utility launches book on its history called ‘From KESC to K-Electric — A Company Reborn’. STOCK IMAGE

KARACHI: A company that was born in Karachi as early as 1913 has penned down its historical journey in a book titled From KESC to K-Electric A Company Reborn.

The author of the book, Arshi Ahmad Aziz, wrote about how the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) used to be a small firm catering to the needs of the people of Kolachi. The firm has now grown into K-Electric, a huge company that manages the demand and supply of more than 20 million people in the city.

The KESC has always been an important thread in the fabric of Karachi's economy and Aziz used the stories of individuals in this city to weave a compelling narrative. He described the problems faced by Azmat, a man belonging to a middle-class family, in chapter one. Titled Another dark night, the chapter drives home the importance of electricity in life and how load-shedding affects the life of the working class. Aziz ended the book with Azmat's life story, and how it changed from being one filled with darkness and mosquitoes to lit up houses.

The 305-page book comprising 17 chapters also narrated how KESC adopted a new name. K-Electric chairperson Tabish Gauhar and his team worked day and night for more than five years to turn the firm into a profit-making organisation, it said.

"After taking over the company's affairs in 2009, the first step we took was to overcome the major problem of load-shedding," said the chief of staff of K-Electric's CEO, Usama Qureshi. "We added 1,010MW to the generation capacity."

First of all, the company decided to work out a plan on segmented load-shedding that makes it easier for the customers to plan their work lives according to the power outages, explained Qureshi. "Secondly, we divided our customers into three categories on the basis of bill recovery, and exempted the good customers from load-shedding, including all industrial zones," he added.

Other chapters in the book talk about Karachi's conundrum and how its future looks bright. In the last five years, KESC has grown from a company working in loss to a profit-making company called K-Electric, boasted Qureshi. "Today, around 60 per cent of Karachi is free from load-shedding," he added.

In the eighth chapter titled 'Conquering Corruption', the writer highlighted the most challenging problem faced in the paradigm shift. "It was very difficult to control and curb the menace of electricity theft," said Qureshi. "We started massive operations without any discrimination, which includes raids on a daily basis, monitoring those areas and cutting off connections that are using illegal means," he added.

The foreword of the book is written by Social Development Enterprise chairperson, Javed Jabbar, who called the book larger than the sum of its parts. He explained how the book is an attempt by the management team controlling private shareholders of a state-owned utility to present its experience over a six-year period.

After reading the book, a middle manager at K-Electric admitted he wanted his mother to stop cursing the utility every time the power went out. The book highlighted the hard work of a team of individuals who made it possible to improve the provision of an essential commodity.

In the future, the company wants to add nearly 1,100MW to the generation capacity through coal and renewable energy projects. "We are also working on a state-of-the-art Smart Grid technology to curb electricity theft," Qureshi said, adding that this will be the first project of its kind in the region.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2015.


Khan | 6 years ago | Reply @Farhan: Yes! it is a private concern, it has improved a lot, it has become a profitable company, and we enjoy uninterruptable electricity supply in KHI. A big question is, how all this happened? Is this attributable to improvement in efficiency; a decline in line losses; reduction in cost of generation; extracting rent because of it monopoly power; capturing the regulator; and so on. I'll share my personal experience, how K-Electric exercises his monopoly power. I applied for a new connection and received a demand notice. Once I paid this, I received a bill of Rs 30,000/- for the use of electricity. It was quite surprising as I was applying for new connections, so how can I use electricity with out temporary connection, which I didn't have. I sent an email, which was never replied by the efficient management. I personally visited K-electric office to find out that 'we cannot forward your application before the payment of this bill. No one at K-electric office had the clear answer to my questions. The only explanation was, we cannot forward your application before the payment of the bill. Could anybody explain what it could be? It is the monopoly power, which K-electric is using ruthlessly.
Ali S | 6 years ago | Reply

@KESC hater:

I'm a Karachiite who has been very satisfied with K-Electric's service for the past 4 years. I've lived in three middle-class areas (North Nazimabad, Johar and Gulshan) and for the past two years there's been zero loadshedding - before that it was 3 hours daily of scheduled timely loadshedding. Live in Punjab for a year and you'll be counting your blessings.

Electricity is a utility - you pay for it, you get it, and that's how it should be, unfortunately the idea of not getting free handouts is beyond the comprehension of most Pakistanis. If only PML-N's industrial friends in Punjab understood that, there would be no loadshedding crisis there.

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