U.S., DisCos sign $9m Power Africa agreement

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and three Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) on Monday signed a nine million-dollar power agreement aimed to enhance their performance.

The agreement was signed between the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, who signed for USAID, and representatives of Abuja, Benin and Eko Distribution Companies.

Mrs Olufunke Osibodu, Managing Director, Benin DisCo; Mr Charles Momoh, Board Chairman, Eko DisCo, and Amb. Shehu Malami Board Chairman, Abuja DisCo signed on behalf of their respective companies.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, represented by one of his Special Advisers, Mr Lanre Akinsola, described the memorandum of understanding as “a major step in right the direction’’.

“It is a partnership through which funds of nine million dollars per year will be provided to improve performance of the DisCos through embedded advisors.

“This is another big step towards achieving our roadmap’s first phase of incremental power, by improving the performance of the DisCos,” he said.

He commended Entwistle for the love and support he demonstrated to ensure improvement in power supply in Nigeria.

Fashola said that Federal Government was working hard to ensure adequate power supply to the populace.

He said that Federal Government was working hard to stimulate the use of solar and also accelerate plans to complete Zungeru Hydro power plant, the Kashimbilla hydro plant and the Gurara hydro plant.

According to him government is also set to conclude the procurement plan to start the construction of the Mambilla hydro plant.

“I am pleased to inform you that the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission has concluded business case reviews for the first phase of eight small hydro power plants.

“We will be taking further steps to complete the procurement process and start work on these dams to generate electricity with our water resources and gradually reduce dependence on gas.

“We have been dependent on gas by choice and we will become independent by choice and diversification.

“This will make a roadmap to incremental power achievable and sustainable,” he said.

Entwistle, in his remarks, said the initiative was under President Obama’s landmark Power initiative and would scale up the U.S. Government’s energy investment in Nigeria and increase available generation.

“The two-year agreement will provide management consultation to three Nigerian distribution companies.

“The agreement will also advance major infrastructure investment and strengthen system in the distribution companies.

“We believe that distribution companies are the starting point for improving the performance of distribution companies.

“We will see increased electricity supply and access; our joint efforts will improve the lives of countless Nigerians and serve as a model for other African countries,” he said.

The envoy said that `Power Africa’ supported the strengthening of the energy sector through credit enhancement grants, technical assistance and investment promotion efforts.

According to him “Power Africa “is also working to mobilise affordable and long term financing to support capital operation expenditure requirements for successor generation and distribution companies.(NAN)