Kenya Power MD Bernard Ngugi resigns

Kenya Power Managing Director Bernard Ngugi

Kenya Power managing director Bernard Ngugi. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Kenya Power managing director Bernard Ngugi has resigned after serving at the helm for almost two years. 

He has been replaced with Rosemary Oduor, who was general manager commercial services and sales, in an acting capacity.

The management changes were confirmed by board chair Vivienne Yeda, who said Mr Ngugi's exit is effective August 4, 2021.

She did not, however, communicate the reasons for his resignation.

“We wish to inform our shareholders that the Board of Directors, exercising their powers given under Article 113 of the Articles of Association of the Kenya Power and Lighting Company Plc, have appointed Eng. Rosemary Oduor as the Acting Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the company with effect from August 4, 2021 following the resignation of Mr Bernard Ngugi,” stated the public notice.

“The Board of Directors would like to assure all of Kenya Power’s stakeholders that our priority remains the successful implementation of the growth strategy in order to place the company firmly on the path towards sustainable profitability.” 

Ms Oduor, who holds a Bachelor's degree in Electrical and Communications Engineering from Moi University, has worked at the utility firm in various capacities since 1991.

She is touted as having wide experience in power engineering and management.

Mr Ngugi was first appointed to head the state-owned utility firm in October 2019. He had replaced Eng. Jared Othieno who served as Acting MD from July 2018 after suspension of Kenya Power's management team. Mr Othieno had taken over from former CEO Ken Tarus, who left after he was charged in court with conspiring to commit an economic crime and abuse of office over irregular supply of transformers. 

Prior to serving as MD, Mr Ngugi was the firm’s general manager in charge of supply chain and had served at Kenya Power for over 32 years.

His appointment as MD was, however, met with criticism after a citizen sued to stop his appointment. Ms Maureen Nyambura Ngigi Warui rushed to court seeking orders to block his pick after raising integrity questions touching on the procurement of faulty transformers when he was the general manager supply chain. 

However, Justice Maureen Onyango quashed the case in November last year, thus saving his job.

At odds with board

Sources familiar with the events leading to his exit said he handed in his resignation on August 3 after a tense and stormy board meeting that ran into late Tuesday evening.

He was reportedly on poor terms with the board which was appointed a year ago, after an overhaul that saw five board members quit in July last year. 

On July 20, 2020, Eng. Abdulrazaq Ali, Eng. Elizabeth A. Rogo, Caroline Kittony-Waiyaki, Vivienne A. Yeda and Sachen Gudka were appointed non-executive directors of the company, replacing Adhil Khawaja, Kairo Thuo, Wilson Kimutai Mungung’ei, Brenda Kokoi and Zipporah Kering.

Ms Yeda was elevated to board chair in November.

It is this new board, sources say, that has not been seeing eye-to-eye with Mr Ngugi, and whose pressure saw him throw in the towel on Tuesday.

Mr Ngugi’s exit and the entry of Ms Oduor now brings to four the number of CEOs who have served the firm in less than five years, some in an acting capacity.

Since January 2017, Kenya Power has had Ken Tarus, Jared Othieno, Bernard Ngugi and now Rosemary Oduor at the helm.

The utility firm has in recent years been faced with a myriad of challenges including huge losses, debts, staff shortages, high operation costs and contracts with independent power producers that have left it operating at losses.