By Celia Zeilberger, Director of Communications and Learning at ECODIT
Power Africa is commemorating its ten-year anniversary this year, and there is a lot to celebrate. The United States Government Presidential Initiative has facilitated 37.5 million electricity connections in Sub-Saharan Africa, bringing first-time electric access to nearly 180 million on the continent. Getting here has required a lot of partnerships and transactions: Power Africa works in 42 countries with more than 200 partners including U.S. and African private sector companies, development partners, and governments. It has helped bring over 4,940 km of power lines and 14,000 Megawatts (MW) to financial close. Facilitating this volume of transactions and engaging such a diverse set of partners across many countries posed a formidable challenge: How to keep track and ensure the accessibility of data so Power Africa and its partners across the continent can work effectively and efficiently? That’s where ECODIT—a U.S. women-owned small business (WOSB) with extensive expertise in the energy sector, and in monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) and data management—came in.
Since 2019, ECODIT has implemented the Power Africa Data and Technical Support Activity (DTS). Through DTS, ECODIT provides strategic and technical support to help Power Africa reach its goals of bringing 30,000 MW of clean new energy and 60 million new electricity connections to Sub-Saharan Africa. This includes assessing performance and progress toward Power Africa targets; ensuring that the data, information, and analysis related to transactions, activities, and programs are accurate, consistent, and timely; providing ongoing data and technology support; and co-developing and co-leading technical and capacity-building assistance for transactions and team programs.
“DTS works hand-in-hand with Power Africa’s data and Monitoring and Evaluation teams to make sure they have the capacity and resources to effectively track Power Africa’s many moving parts and enhance their effectiveness and efficiency,” said Loretta Bauer, Activity Director for DTS at ECODIT.
One particularly innovative component of DTS is the Power Africa Tracking Tool (PATT). The PATT is a platform that tracks and monitors Sub-Saharan Africa power projects from development to commissioning and manages Power Africa’s relationships with partners and stakeholders. It houses data and information related to nearly 500 power transactions. The cloud-based database allows the Power Africa Coordinator’s Office, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Missions, and partners to update the information in real time, providing essential information and transparency to users.
ECODIT provides robust support to PATT. In addition to hosting the platform, ECODIT lends continuous monitoring and support, working with Power Africa and partners to verify data in the system and identify gaps and missing data in PATT. The ECODIT team works to make the platform more user friendly through such initiatives as a monthly status summary field and a new data dashboard, Data Snapshot, that captures key transaction results and official partner/organization figures on a quarterly basis. In addition, ECODIT conducts training for users and creates user guides, video tutorials, and other learning products to ensure users have the knowledge to use PATT with ease.
“PATT is a versatile management tool that assists Power Africa and its key stakeholders to monitor progress towards its goals. It has improved collaboration and information sharing across teams, U.S. government (USG) agencies, and field-based networks, has facilitated improved decision making, and has allowed for the identification of critical issues and constraints,” said Ms. Bauer.
To support DTS and the PATT, ECODIT has harnessed both its experience in the energy sector—including several projects for Power Africa—as well as its expertise in facilitating innovation and supporting data management and MEL for USAID. For example, ECODIT previously built and maintained a knowledge sharing platform for USAID partners and staff working on water issues and conducted post evaluations of key water projects. ECODIT also currently implements the Sri Lanka and Maldives Monitor, Document, Evaluate, and Learn (MODEL) Activity, which is providing services and building capacity in a wide range of MEL functions so the USAID Mission is more effective and better able to operate as a learning organization. These and other experiences have enabled ECODIT to effectively capture and compile Power Africa’s continent-spanning data and facilitate its use for evidence-based decision-making and program implementation.
“ECODIT knows firsthand how accessing reliable, up-to-date data is critical for sound implementation. We are proud to be partnering with Power Africa to bring electricity to millions across Sub-Saharan Africa through improved data management,” said ECODIT President Roula Attar.
ECODIT is leveraging data to help Power Africa meet its goals of bringing 30,000 MW of clean new energy and 60 million new electricity connections to Sub-Saharan Africa.