HomeIndustry SectorsAsset MaintenanceRelief for Nigeria’s DISCOs through $500m World Bank support project

Relief for Nigeria’s DISCOs through $500m World Bank support project

The World Bank has approved $500 million to support the government of Nigeria in improving its electricity distribution sector.

The project will help boost electricity access by improving the performance of the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) through a large-scale metering programme.

In addition, financial support will be provided to private distribution companies only on the achievement of results in terms of access connections, improved financial management and network expansion. 

Nataliya Kulichenko, World Bank task team leader for the project, explained:“The programme will only be eligible to those DISCOs that transparently declare their performance reports to public with actual flow of funds based on strict verification of achieved performance targets by an independent third party.”

According to Kulichenko, the programme will also make meters available at affordable prices to all consumers in Nigeria, “a long pending demand of Nigerians”.

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DISCOs play an important role in energy access

Eighty-five million Nigerians do not have access to grid electricity. This represents 43% of the country’s population making the West Africa country the largest energy access deficit in the world.

The lack of reliable power is a significant constraint for citizens and businesses, resulting on annual economic losses estimated at $26.2 billion (₦10.1 trillion). This loss is equivalent to about 2% of the GDP.

According to the 2020 World Bank Doing Business report, Nigeria ranks 171 out of 190 countries in getting electricity and electricity access is seen as one of the major constraints for the private sector.

Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director, commented: “Improving access and reliability of power is key to reduce poverty and unlocking economic growth in the aftermath of the global COVID-19 pandemic.”

Chaudhuri added: “The operation will help improve the financial viability of the DISCOs and increase revenues for the whole Nigerian power sector, which is critical to save scarce fiscal resources and create jobs by increasing the productivity of private and public enterprises”.

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The Nigeria Distribution Sector Recovery Programme (DISREP) will help improve service quality, as well as the financial and technical performance of distribution companies by providing financing based on performance and reduction of losses.

This project complements the support provided under the Power Sector Recovery Operation (PSRO)approved in June 2020

Specifically, it will ensure that distribution companies make necessary investments to rehabilitate networks, install electric meters for more accurate customer billing and to improve quality of service for those already connected to the grid.

It will also help strengthen the financial and technical management of DISCOs to improve the transparency and accountability of the distribution sector.  

The programme will reduce the CO2 emissions of the Nigerian power sector by reducing technical losses, increasing energy efficiency, replacing diesel and biomass with grid-electricity, and investing more in on- and offgrid renewable energy. 

DISREP supports the development of regulatory guidance on climate-resilient infrastructure and facilitates the inclusion of climate risks in decision making.

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Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
Nicolette is the Editor of ESI Africa print journal, ESI-Africa.com and the annual African Power & Energy Elites. She is passionate about placing African countries on the international stage and is driven by the motto "The only way to predict the future is to create it". Join her in creating a sustainable future through articles and multimedia content.