African Utility Week speaker advises energy providers on the importance of branding

According to global African brand and reputation architect, Thebe Ikalafeng, 17% of the most admired brands in Africa are from outside the African continent.

In addition, amongst the top ten most loved and trusted brands in the African region, none are utilities.

In fact, the region’s top ten most loved brands including Safaricom and Econet operate in the telecommunications, food and drinks industries.

In a keynote session held during the African Utility Week in Cape Town this week, Ikalafeng urged energy providers in the African continent to improve their branding.

By improving their branding, he said utilities would inturn attract more customers and improve their customer services and revenue generation.

“Branding is everything. Without utilities the African economy won’t grow,” added Ikalafeng.

He said an increase in investments in projects to improve branding would create new revenue streams for utilities in markets forecasted to emerge from the growth in urbanisation by 62% and increase in population to 2 billion by 2050 in Africa.

Moreover, he said huge opportunities in improving branding and service delivery by energy providers lies in the privatisation of the energy sector and in ownership and operations of utility firms.

Branded customer service

However, the core message in Ikalafeng’s presentation was a call for utilities to improve their understanding of the needs of their consumers through communication and engagement with customers.

He said high service delivery standards are achievable through a two-way communication with consumers, for instance by using social media platforms.

“80% of firms rate their service delivery at 100% yet only 8% of their customers agree,” he said.

Some of the recommendations towards a branded customer service which Ikalafeng provided include energy distribution firms in Africa:

  • Develop and implement customer tailored business models
  • Collaborate with regional governments, utilities and reserach institutions in developing, testing and implementing new business models.
  • Executives and utility leadership to think differently, be innovative and bring new ideas
  • Clarity of promises
  • To have emotional connections with customers
  • Deliver their promises [KPMG highlights emerging tech trends at African Utility Week].


Image credit: 123rf.