Afghan Utility Conquers Financial Management Woes With Automation

DABS employees take inventory of utility’s assets for a digital assets database.
DABS employees take inventory of the utility’s assets for a digital database.
USAID
Software replaces manually processed billing and payroll
“The use of the latest technology for an easier and faster process for payment of electricity bills for our customers highlights [the company’s] commitment to the people of Afghanistan.”

May 2017—Managing a national electric utility in a poor, unstable country such as Afghanistan is challenging on many fronts, not the least of which is maintaining financial records.

The utility Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), established in 2008, had been processing all financial records by hand. Consequently, annual financial audits contained serious disclaimers, the utility was late paying employees and filing taxes, and donors were hesitant to disburse money through DABS’ financial systems.

Something had to change. With USAID support, in May 2015, DABS issued a contract to install, customize and test software that automates many office functions related to finance, customer services and human resources, creating a shared database. For the utility—which had been processing billing, accounts and payroll manually—the software has been game-changing.

The software has been installed in DABS’ offices in only two provinces thus far, Kabul and Kandahar, but already it has had an impact. For the first time in its short history, the utility was able to issue its consolidated accounts for the last fiscal year on time and in compliance with international financial reporting standards.

The software also has enabled DABS to create a digital registry of its assets, so if the utility needed to borrow money for expansion, lenders could be assured of DABS’ true value as a company.

DABS employees also have benefitted. Previously, human resources spent more than 40 days processing each payroll for its 7,000 employees; now, it spends only 12 days, and salaries are deposited directly into employee accounts.

Customers, who previously had to go to a bank to pay their bills, can now make payments via their mobile phone, automated kiosks located throughout urban areas, or at a DABS service center.

“The use of the latest technology for an easier and faster process for payment of electricity bills for our customers highlights Breshna’s commitment to the people of Afghanistan,” said Qudratullah Delawari, CEO of DABS.

Finally, the software enables DABS to view human resources, management and financial data in real time. Costly errors in reporting and transactions as well as opportunities for corruption have been reduced, and DABS is becoming more self-reliant and better able to serve the people of Afghanistan. The utility is now arguably the most functional entity in the Government of Afghanistan.

This activity is part of USAID’s government-to-government Power Transmission Expansion and Connectivity project, which runs from 2012 to 2018. The project aims to increase citizens’ access to electricity by expanding Afghanistan’s transmission system and strengthening the operation and management of the national electric utility.

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Last updated: May 09, 2017

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