Customer perceptions regarding information dissemination strategies of electricity provision by ZESCO LTD in densely populated areas of Lusaka District

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Mbale, Tiwonge
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The University of Zambia
Electricity is a commodity at the epicentre of modern society. The mammoth task of ensuring that electricity is generated, transmitted, supplied and successfully distributed to its consumers in Zambia is spearheaded by ZESCO Limited formerly known as Zambia Electricity Supply Cooperation. ZESCO Limited uses several information dissemination strategies to communicate with its customers. It was, however, not known how its customers perceived these communication strategies. The purpose of this study was to investigate customer perceptions regarding information dissemination strategies that ZESCO Limited had put in place to communicate with its customers particularly those located in densely populated area of Lusaka District. This study, therefore, sought to: determine how customers accessed information about electricity provision as disseminated by ZESCO Limited; establish the views customers had towards communication strategies used by ZESCO Limited; investigate customers’ understanding of the information disseminated by ZESCO Limited; and investigate how frequent ZESCO conducted sensitization campaigns in densely populated areas. The study adopted a descriptive survey design. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were employed, this meant that there was triangulation of information collected through different instruments and from different sources. Semi-structured questionnaires were administered to 196 ZESCO limited customers, while 33 customers took part in focus group discussions and open-ended questionnaires were administered to 16 ZESCO Limited members of staff. Simple random sampling was employed to select ZESCO Limited customers whereas employees were sampled using purposive sampling. The total sample comprised 245 respondents, which included 229 customers residing in densely populated areas of Lusaka District and 16 ZESCO Limited employees based at head office in Lusaka. Quantitatively, information was captured from 196 customers while qualitatively, information was collected from 16 employees and from 33 customers. In terms of data analysis, qualitative data was coded based on the themes and sub-themes that emerged. Participants’ voices were also captured. Quantitative data, on the other hand, was analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences Software (SPSS). The use of SPSS involved recording variables and presentation of data using percentages as well as other graphical representations such as graphs, pie charts and frequency distribution tables, this was done with the assistance of Windows eight excel. vii The findings of the study revealed that some customers accessed information through communication channels such as: short message broadcasts, television and radio adverts/programs as well as consulting neighbours. Some customers however, were not aware of the existence of other information dissemination strategies that ZESCO uses. A few customers also shared the views that the company concentrated on addressing the needs of its customers in low density areas at the expense of those in densely populated areas. It was also established that most customers had difficulties in understanding the information disseminated because it was couched in a highly technical language. In view of these findings, the following recommendations were made to ZESCO Management: to ensure that sensitization campaigns are conducted as scheduled (that is quarterly), to translate information on electricity provision in local language, to conduct roll out awareness campaigns in order to enlighten customers on the various channels of communication and to carry out needs assessment surveys in densely populated areas.
Zambia Electricity Supply Cooperation , Communication strategies