NIGERIA – The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) has secured a grant of US$1.06m from the United States Government through its US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) for solar energy development.

The money will be used to fund the installation of 1,370 solar-powered mini-grids with energy storage systems to provide power to underserved communities.

The funds would also be used to conduct feasibility studies in the franchise areas of the Disco to identify specific opportunities for the different communities in order to provide bankable solutions.

Areas of the Abuja Disco franchise include; the Federal Capital Territory, Niger, Nasarawa and Kogi states.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Abuja, the Managing Director, AEDC, Ernest Mupwaya, said the grant would help in providing uninterrupted power supply to the underserved communities in the Disco’s franchise areas.

 “We are grateful that the USTDA has committed funding to help the AEDC provide electricity to underserved communities through the implementation of up to 1,370 solar-powered mini-grids with energy storage systems,” Mupwaya said.

“With this support from the USTDA in partnership with Rocky Mountain Institute, we are going to be able to conduct a feasibility study that will identify specific opportunities for different areas so that we can ultimately have bankable solutions, which in turn can facilitate partnerships with other investors.

He further noted that the goal of the grant for the study was to identify optimal locations for complimentary mini-grid deployments within the catchment area of the AEDC.

Mupwaya  also revealed that the development of the 1,370 solar-powered mini-grids is part of the franchise’s  added strategic plan to provide adequate and reliable power on a  24hour/7days basis in the Disco’s franchise areas starting with Abuja.

The Country Representative, West Africa, USTDA, Josh Egba, said the US agency had been connecting America’s private sector to infrastructure projects in developing and middle-income counties.

He further added that one of USTDA main objectives is to fund feasibility studies, technical assistance, pilot projects and technical advisory services that provide the comprehensive analysis required for infrastructure investments to progress from concept to financing and implementation.

Nigeria has a total of 11 electricity distribution companies which are popularly known as Discos.

These Discos were privatised in 2013 to improve operational efficiency in electricity distribution through the reduction of Aggregate Technical, Commercial & Collection (ATC & C) losses.

Increasing access to electricity through a robust and modern distribution network was also the other goal of electricity disco privatization.

The Abuja Disco franchise is one of the 11 that are operating in Nigeria and the support from the USTDA would be critical in helping the Disco achieve the above set goals.