Understanding The Nigerian Power Sector (DISCOS)

If you have ever stumbled upon any Nigerian electricity news or article, you might be baffled by some of the terms often used in those publications. Our research shows that a large chunk of the electricity consumers still don’t understand what the privatisation of the power sector entails. Hence, words like GenCo, DisCo, TCN and the likes might be a little confusing for a casual reader.

The above thought process is the core premise behind this series themed “Understanding The Nigerian Power Sector”

Here we explain each of the separate divisions of the power sector and give answers to common questions you may have about them.


What are Discos?

The acronym Discos simply refers to electricity Distribution Companies. Electricity Distribution is the final stage in the electricity supply chain. The chain goes thus;

Electric power is generated by the generation companies (Gencos), transmitted to the communities by the transmission company (TCN) and is finally delivered to our homes by the distribution companies (Discos).

What do the Discos do?

The Discos, in order to deliver this electric power to our homes as consumers, have to step down the high voltage electricity that is transported from the generation companies through the transmission grid to low voltage power that is usable. They do this with the aid of their substation transformers (community transformers).

Basically, the Discos serve as the connection between electricity consumers and the electricity grid. Due to their position in the supply value chain, the Discos are also responsible for billing the consumers and revenue collection.

All things being equal, the Discos are supposed to decide which substations electricity is transmitted to from the grid. However, that is not always the case as the transmission company and Discos are faced with challenges that sometimes force the to compromise that logic.

How many Discos do we have in Nigeria?

Presently, Nigeria has eleven (11) electricity distribution companies which have all been privatised up to at least 60% each. Below is a list of the eleven Discos and their franchise regions;

Successor Disco
States Covered / Franchise Areas
Abuja Disco (PHED)
FCT, Niger, Nassarawa, Kogi
Benin Disco (BEDC)
Edo, Delta, Ekiti, Ondo
Enugu Disco
Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi, Abia,  Enugu
Eko Disco (EKEDC)
Lagos State (Victoria Island, Lekki, Lagos Island, Apapa, Epe, Ikoyi, etc)
Port Harcourt Disco (PHED)
Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom
Ibadan Disco (IBEDC)
Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Kwara
Ikeja Disco
Lagos State (Ikeja, Surulere, Ikorodu, etc)
Jos Disco
Plateau, Bauchi, Benue, Gombe
Kano Disco (KEDCO)
Kano, Jigawa and Katsina
Kaduna Disco
Kaduna, Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara
Yola Disco (YEDC)
Adamawa, Borno, Taraba and Yobe

What are the challenges faced by Discos?

The Nigerian power sector is plagued with challenges on all sides and the Discos are not excluded from sharing these challenges. It won’t be inaccurate to say that the Discos have to bear more burdens in the power sector. This is because, to an average electricity consumer, the Discos are the face of the whole sector and as such get the firsthand blame on any electricity problem the consumers are experiencing. Some of the challenges faced by the Discos are as follows;

Poor Funding: Discos all over the country have at some point all complained about poor funding and how it has affected their operations over the years. Ever since the concession of the Discos, the companies have been running at a loss. Because it is the responsibility of the Discos to collect revenue and pay Gencos and the TCN as long as power is generated and transmitted. This brings us to the problem of poor revenue collection.

Poor Revenue Collection: The Discos have been blamed over the years by different bodies and expert for their poor revenue collection. This leads to the aforementioned lack of funding and huge debt pile.

According to the CEO of PHED, Mr Jay McCoskey; “There’s no distribution company in Nigeria that is bankable right now.

“PHED is N70 billion in debt to the market”

No Distribution Company In Nigeria Is Bankable – CEO, PHED

Insufficient Power Supply from the National Grid: Another major problem that affects the Discos is the insufficient power supply from the national grid. This can be as a result of the TCN’s reduced wheeling capacity, a National grid collapse or just insufficient power generation.

In a statement by the Deputy Managing Director of IBEDC, Mr. John Ayodele. He said;

“IBEDC is a distribution company and we can only distribute the power that is being delivered to us from the national grid.”

IBEDC Explains Reasons For Power Rejection And Low Power Supply In Some Areas

Electricity Theft: Electricity Theft is presently one of the Discos’ biggest challenge. A lot of electricity consumers in Nigeria are still illegally connected to the grid. This is a problem for the Discos because these consumers don’t pay for the electricity they consume and it only adds on to the pile of debt the Discos are already in. They sometimes also cause overloading of transformers.

Why electricity theft should bother you.

Infrastructural Challenges: The Discos have to deal with issues like overloaded transformers and feeders, obsolete equipment, limited network, lack of automation, etc. All these greatly limit the ability of the Discos to deliver electricity to their customers.

Metering Gap: There is a huge gap between the percentage of Discos’ customers that have been metered and the percentage of customers that have not. Unless a customer is metered, it is impossible to accurately determine the amount of electricity the customer is consuming. Due to this, a lot of electricity consumers bills are still estimated. This is, however also a challenge for the consumers because they often become victims of overbilling.

Liberalise Meter Market To Control Overbilling – Local Meter Manufacturers

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Busayo Oladejo

Passionate about Information technology, Project management and Social media.

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