Four power distribution companies in the country grew their revenue by $162m (N49.57bn at the official exchange rate of N306 to a dollar) after the intervention of the United States Agency for International Development through the Power Africa Transactions and Reform Project.
It was gathered that the United States agency’s support to the four Discos boosted their revenue protection and collection mechanisms, although the agency did not disclose the names of the power firms.
In an email to our correspondent in Abuja, the Deputy Director for USAID/Nigeria’s Economic Growth and Environment Office, David Rogers, described Nigeria, being Africa’s largest oil exporter with a population of 193 million people, as a focus country for Power Africa and one of Power Africa’s largest investments.
He said Nigeria’s diversified economy could grow faster and create more opportunities if the structural problems affecting its various sectors were surmounted, adding that among these problems was the country’s electricity shortage and instability.
Rogers, who doubles as the Power Africa coordinator for Nigeria, said, “The good news is that despite all your (Nigeria’s) challenges, improvements can be made. Building on the success of Power Africa’s earlier investments through the Power Africa Transactions and Reform Project, a larger, more focused Nigeria Power Sector Project has started and will run through 2023.
“PATRP provided technical assistance and capacity building to four distribution companies and delivered $162m worth of increased revenue through improved revenue protection and collection mechanisms; facilitated over 500,000 new connections; reduced aggregate technical, commercial and collections losses between six and 13 per cent per distribution company; introduced new Disco operational efficiencies that improved customer service and timely revenue management; and trained in various disciplines over 4,000 Disco employees over a two year period.”
Rogers said in the new phase of Power Africa support to the Nigerian electricity supply industry, the NPSP was supporting the entire Nigerian power sector value chain beyond Discos, focusing on coordination between the various stakeholders and donor coordination to maximise support and available funding across all the links of the chain.
He stated that NPSP’s support to the Discos would be extensive, adding that the project would support performance improvement plan development for selected Discos.
Rogers said, “Performance improvement plans are a pivotal planning tool to assist the Nigerian power sector to improve, and Power Africa is providing assistance in PIP development.
“NPSP will provide technical assistance to support effective operations, improve the accuracy, quality, and integrity of industry data, and enable selected Discos to achieve targets included in their privatisation agreements.”
He said the project would provide capacity building across all Discos to
strengthen billing and collections and technical service capabilities; implement targeted community and gender engagement campaigns; and build the capabilities of the Discos’ finance and accounting departments.
“Finally, NPSP will promote effective cooperation between Discos and other power sector stakeholders in addressing long-term sector problems such as integrated planning, private sector participation, electrification, and improved sector efficiency,” he said.
Rogers stated that Power Africa was a USAID-led partnership between development partners, the private sector, and African governments that aims to add 30,000 megawatts of new and cleaner power generation to the continent and 60 million new electricity connections to homes and businesses.
According to him, Power Africa started in 2013, and thus far over 10,000MW of generation projects had reached financial close, and nearly 15 million new connections had been realised.
He noted that despite the diverse economic sectors in Nigeria, lack of access to reliable electricity was consistently cited as a constraint on Nigeria’s economic growth.