Joseph Siror vows to light up Kenya Power from cloud of darkness


Joseph Siror is the new chief executive at Kenya Power. ILLUSTRATION | JOSEPH BARASA | NMG

For a man taking over what is perhaps one of Corporate Kenya's most jinxed offices, Joseph Siror exudes confidence that he will succeed where his predecessors had a bumpy ride.

"I am on a mission, and I must fulfil it. There is no option," says the newly appointed Kenya Power managing director and CEO from the seventh-floor boardroom on Stima Plaza.

It is likely the same room where board members sat and voted to kick out his predecessors as dark clouds gathered over the struggling power utility firm.

But looking over the capital city's central business district from the vantage position, Dr Siror, who confesses to being a born-again Christian, is adamant that he must prevail over the ills that bedevil Kenya's biggest electricity distributor.

"The greatest competitor to Kenya Power is darkness," says the CEO with a penchant for quoting the Bible to drive home his point.

Read: Kenya Power CEO shortlist narrows to three managers

And no darkness has been a more significant threat than the firm's financials. In the half-year that ended in December 2022, the company sank into a Sh1.14 billion net loss.

It blamed the deterioration on a weakening shilling and a 15 percent tariff cut.

As Dr Siror settles into office, this loss will likely widen when the firm announces the full-year results considering that the local currency has continued losing more value since the last briefing.

Then there are capital-intensive programmes he says have been bleeding the utility over the years, notably former President Uhuru Kenyatta's flagship project, the Last Mile Connectivity, launched in 2013 to attain universal electricity connectivity.

The soft-spoken electrical engineer says Last Mile has only compounded Kenya Power's financial woes and that the paltry electricity usage by most homes makes it highly unlikely that the company will get a return on investments.

The utility is owed Sh1.5 billion for the ambitious project. To stop the bleeding, he is talking about changes.

"The trajectory of Kenya Power will change. Let us face it, Kenya Power is in a deep hole due to external and internal factors, but I have faith in my staff," he says.

"Right now, I am in a position to chart a path and influence the change I desire."

Besides the financial struggles, Dr Siror also has another darkness to deal with in the form of a tainted image of the utility firm in the eyes of millions of its customers.

He takes the reins at a time their faith in the company has been weakened by many factors, including extortion by both rogue staff and criminals who masquerade as Kenya Power employees and their never-ending customer complaints about the unreliable power supply.

While acknowledging that supply grievances make sense, Dr Siror rates the utility highly, noting that unlike in South Africa, where the State electricity distributor Eskom struggles to power the economy with lengthy outages and load-shedding, Kenyans still enjoy better services.

Nevertheless, he says that Kenya Power must play its role in powering the local economy to give value for money to consumers paying high bills monthly.

Until early this month, Dr Siror led a quiet life away from the limelight. This, despite an impressive career spanning 30 years in the energy, education, and finance sectors.

Read: Kenya Power kicks off search for a new MD

He is banking on the experience gained while working at the Kenya Revenue Authority and other stints at Firestone East Africa, Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporations, National Economic and Social Council, and Kenya Electricity Transmission Company.

Before his appointment at Kenya Power, he worked at Ketraco for more than six years, rising to become general manager for systems operations and power management.

He was responsible for the high-voltage transmission grid.

Since 2012, he has worked part-time as a postgraduate supervisor in Information Technology and Information Systems at Kabarak University.

He also had a five-year stint between 2011 and 2017 as Director of Science, Technology, Innovation, and Communication at the National Economic and Social Council under the Office of the President.

Before that, he was at the KRA for nearly 13 years, rising from senior assistant commissioner for cargo Screening unit.

At the tax agency, he is credited with leading the team that introduced the first Large Area Network, cargo X-ray scanners, and electronic cargo tracking.

He started his career at Firestone as a senior analyst.

Dr Siror holds a doctorate in engineering from Shanghai Jiaotong University in China, a master's degree in electrical engineering and a law degree from the University of London.

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