The following transcript of proceedings of the 24th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on 27 April 2022 is being delivered uncertified by Copperbelt Energy Corporation Plc (CEC).
The information in this transcript is for general information only. It should not be used as a substitute for specific and professional advice. Responsibility is disclaimed for any inaccuracies, errors or omissions. All expressions of opinion or advice are published on the basis that they are not to be regarded as expressing the official opinion of Copperbelt Energy Corporation Plc unless expressly stated. CEC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of the opinions of information contained in this transcript.
Thank you, Chairman. Good morning shareholders and good morning Directors and members of Management. Welcome to today's AGM. I will start the presentation and then at some point, I will hand over to the Chief Financial Officer. I'm delighted to be making this presentation this morning to you to highlight how the Company has performed in the year 2021, and try to give you some insights in terms of what we believe the future of the Company looks like.
So, I do want to start with what we consider to be a critical aspect of the business and this is safety and our system liability. We obviously do report on this on a continuous basis because this is quite critical. We deal with a very dangerous product and this is electricity. However, I'm very pleased this morning to be reporting that our performance in this area has continued to be exemplary. Looking at all the statistics, we did very well in this area. We continued to extend the system’s no lost-time accidents to almost 10.2 million man-hours from 8.2 million man-hours that we had last year.
We've continued with our very disciplined implementation of standards and through this, we continue to build on the Company’s safety culture that has ensured that as a Company, we basically operate a world class operation from a safety perspective. We do obviously benchmark our operations, first of all to other utilities within the region, but we do benchmark to others in the world as well. Obviously, this level of operation has enabled us to continue to operate a fatality-free operation. Now, this is not something that we take for granted. I mean, this is something that you need to continuously monitor and ensure that we keep each other accountable, ensuring that at all times we follow the rules. This is an area where things can go wrong quite easily and, therefore, we shouldn't at any point rest on our laurels. We need to make sure that on a continuous basis, we keep reminding each other, as I said. We continuously hold each other to the safety standards that we have set.
From a system reliability perspective, again I'm happy to report that our network achieved very strong reliability and we continue to assure security of supply to all our customers. Anybody using our system, I think, will be delighted with the level of service that we continue to provide. This is not to say we don't have challenges. We do have our own challenges within our system. We continue to work on those, but what we make sure is that those challenges do not result in affecting service quality that we've promised our customers. From an external wider network perspective, because our network is connected to others, I want to report on three national blackouts that were experienced in 2021.
These are the big incidents. They do occur – they rarely occur – but if they do occur they are obviously very big incidents. Unfortunately in 2021, we experienced three of these, and as a Company that supplies to mines that operate below the water table, there is a requirement such as the contractual obligation to some of these customers, that during those periods we do provide emergency power. We've got a portfolio of emergency power sources, and during these three occasions, unfortunate occurrences, we did provide emergency power in line with our contractual obligations. I'm quite happy to report that the feedback that we got from the customers was very good, and of course we continue to look at how we can improve those systems going forward.
This being a national blackout, on the government side as well as the regulator side, a team was put in place to try and understand what exactly happened and find ways to make sure these things do not happen going forward. A report was issued to this effect, which contains the causes and indeed lessons learnt from these incidents. We have studied that report. We continue to engage others, and we believe we are better placed to avoid the occurrence of these incidents going forward. The sources of these incidents were obviously not in our network. Some of it was within Zambia, some of it was outside Zambia but overall, as utilities, we do work together because our systems are interconnected, to find ways of ensuring that these things first of all, don't occur, and if they do occur, how can we minimise the impact of such incidents on our customers.
One of the issues that I've been talking about, I think in the last two years, is the threat of copper conductors. As you know, copper is riding its crest in terms of price, and so any piece of copper lying around, or that you can get access to, tends to be highly valued. Because of that, and some of the challenges from an economic and social perspective that our market experiences, we've been at the receiving end of theft of copper conductors. I'm happy to report that we've made progress in this area, and we saw a lot of improvement in 2021, with some of the people involved in this having been apprehended.
This was a collaborative effort between our CEC security and the state police, and some of these people have also been taken to court and ended up being convicted. There are other solutions that we continue to work on to ensure that we completely eliminate this scourge going forward. So this is something that we'll continue to address but, overall, whatever we are doing is obviously meant to ensure that network availability and service continuity is there at all times for our customers.
I want to talk briefly about the business environment. Coming from 2020 to 2021, there are obviously a number of issues that were impacting on the business environment generally, and most of our shareholders will be aware that the private sector in general and CEC more specifically had certain concerns with the business environment.
I want to report on some of the things that have happened since. In August 2021, obviously, Zambia went to the polls, and those polls resulted in a new Government being elected. One of the good things to come out of the new Government has been the announcement of the Government's intentions to anchor the economy on the private sector. Obviously, for that to succeed, it's required that the Government works on improving the business environment in order to continue to attract private capital.
On our part as CEC, we do agree that it is a top priority for any government. And, as a business, we are continuing to reiterate this to make sure that we use the opportunity to resolve all h