Poor access to power and our recommendation to improve it:
A 2018 survey by SDN of Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) customers found 40% of those interviewed were not receiving any electricity at all due to grid failure in the area, and half of those who did get electricity had it for less than four hours a day. Reliable power is essential for schooling and local businesses, and to avoid the polluting diesel generators and kerosene lamp alternatives. Our key recommendation from the survey results was for BEDC to work closely with its customers to increase understanding of its services, and the importance of taking stewardship over its facilities to curtail theft, vandalism, and improve grid supply.
Working to go from recommendation to reality and improved access to power.
To encourage the implementation of this recommendation, SDN has worked with BEDC and target communities to create Community Advocacy Working Groups (CAWGs) that serve as a point of contact between BEDC and its customers in each community it serves, reporting on supply complaints, instances of corruption by BEDC staff, and electricity theft and vandalism.
On 08 September 2020, SDN organised a training between the BEDC and 16 CAWGs from Delta State at BEDC State headquarters in Asaba. The training was to improve CAWGs ability to advocate and engage stakeholders in Delta State. The training also covered how to effectively use WhatsApp groups to share success stories, as well as report electricity theft, corruption, and electricity supply complaints—whilst recognising and avoiding posting fake news to the group. The groups restated their commitment to work with the Community Electricity Committee to prevent theft and vandalism of their electricity assets.
This meeting with BEDC State head and his management team will give us the confidence to pursue our advocacy efforts in our different communities with the Business Managers for prompt attention and recognitionAyo Festus, Emebiren CAWG
Ughelli CAWG’s success story
Inspired by the training, the Ughelli CAWG mapped stakeholders and embarked on advocacy visits to those with influence or responsibility for replacing a damaged transformer that cut the local area (Afiesere junction) off from accessing grid power for over two years. The CAWG visited and complained to the Business Manager in the area and aids of Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie – Omo Agege.
The CAWG’s visit to the Deputy Senate President aids was successful, and a new 500KVA transformer was supplied to the community. According to Prince Akpofure from the Ughelli CAWG,
I thank SDN for the formation of this Community Advocacy Working Groups and for teaching us how to map stakeholders and to embark on advocacy visits. Our effort is bearing good fruit by getting a brand new 500KVA transformer from the Deputy Senate President.
Another member of Ughelli CAWG, Okorodudu Paul, said
This is the first job we embarked upon after the inauguration of the Community Advocacy Working Group. For the past two months, we have been meeting with BEDC and the aides to the Deputy Senate President on how he can provide a new transformer for the community.
Ughelli’s CAWG monitored the transformer’s delivery and helped to securely fence it. Now, 2,850 people living and attending church in the area enjoy between 8 and 20 hours of centralised electricity provision they didn’t have before. This reduces the reliance on local diesel generators and kerosene lamps that cause air pollution in the homes and local area.