World Bank approves $500m to support electricity distribution in Nigeria

The World Bank has approved $500 million to support Nigeria in improving operations of electricity distribution companies (DisCos).

In a recent statement by the Bank, it said this is under its distribution sector recovery program (DISREP).

It said the project will help boost electricity access by improving performance DisCos though large-scale metering program.

The statement, quoting the 2020 World Bank doing business report, indicated that Nigeria ranks 171 out of 190 countries in getting electricity, adding that electricity access is seen as a major constraints for the private sector.

Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank’s country director, said: “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”.

“Specifically, it will ensure that DisCos 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,” World Bank said.

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

Natalia Kulicjenko, World Bank’s task team leader for power sector recovery operation (PSRO) said: “The program 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.

“The program would also make meters available at affordable prices to all consumers in Nigeria, a long pending demand of Nigerians”.

World Bank further said DISREP will reduce the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of Nigeria’s power sector by reducing technical losses, increasing energy efficiency, replacing diesel and biomass with grid-electricity, and investing more in on- and off-grid renewable energy.

According to the Bank, 85 million Nigerians (43 per cent) do not have access to grid electricity, making it the largest energy access deficit country globally.

It said the lack of reliable power is a significant constraint for citizens and businesses, adding Nigeria’s economic cost of power shortages is estimated at $26.2 billion — equivalent to about 2 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

World bank had approved the PSRO of $750 million in June 2020 to improve the reliability of electricity supply, achieve financial and fiscal sustainability, and enhance accountability in Nigeria’s power sector.

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