USAID’s Transparent Energy project: on the way toward the sector’s openness

24 January 2019

The final event of USAID’s project “Initiative for Combating Corruption and Increasing Fiscal Transparency in Ukraine’s Energy Sector” (Transparent Energy) implemented by DiXi Group was held on 23 January.

This project was launched in 2016 with the aim at improving transparency in Ukraine’s energy sector. This goal was to be achieved by disclosing, analyzing and disseminating information withheld from the broad public.

The USAID’s Transparent Energy project envisaged a whole number of actions, including data monitoring and gathering, launch of a series of journalistic investigations, placement of requests for information, promotion of public pressure campaigns.

The final event discussed to what extent the project’s objectives could be accomplished.

‘The Transparent Energy project helped put a lot of ideas into practice, creating opportunities for increasing accountability and good governance in the energy sector. It armed the broad public with new, interesting instruments of understanding how this sector operates. In addition, it offered an excellent chance to take a look at and even assess the overall situation with transparency. Moreover, the use of expert knowledge and modern approaches created, in our opinion, a good foundation for further sustainable development of Ukraine’s energy sector’, DiXi Group Vice President Anton Antonenko summed up the results.

One of the project’s key achievements was the development and launch of the Interactive Map of Ukraine’s Energy Sector. The map vividly shows commodity and cash flows in the gas, electricity, heat and petroleum products sectors. With this map, a user can quickly find information regarding income in energy markets and the recipients of this income, or compare prices and identify “black boxes” of the domestic energy sector, i.e. information withheld from the public.

‘The online map of the energy sector was the first systemic work on gathering and systemizing data from open sources. It is important that information regarding various markets and categories is presented in interactive, easy-to-perceive form. This is a map one can easily navigate and receive a lot of information from’, DiXi Group Head of Projects Roman Nitsovych said.

The project’s another objective was to study the opportunities for application of innovative information disclosure models and communicating this information to the society, in particular, on the basis of legislative initiatives aimed to ensure regular publication of key data regarding performance of the energy sector. 

The passage of the Extractive Industries Transparency Law (a campaign in support of this Law was held under USAID’s Transparent Energy project), voted for by 244 MPs, became a great achievement in this regard.

‘This Law makes it a general rule what hitherto has been simply a good practice. In Ukraine, it means disclosing information regarding the extractive sector, payments in that sector, and beneficial owners. In the past, extractive companies could provide information only if they felt like doing it. After the passage of this Law, the disclosure became a rule’, DiXi Group President Olena Pavlenko commented on the passage of the Law.

The project’s another achievement was the creation of the Energy Transparency Index (ETI). It was developed to assess the actual state of information accessibility in the sector and to diagnose weak spots in information system.

The Index is based on 287 indicators grouped into eight categories (energy consumption, reliability and security of supply, operation of natural monopolies, etc.). To make the assessment, DiXi Group experts worked with data from open sources. The final ETI score of Ukraine is 43 out of the 100 possible points, which indicates insufficient transparency of the domestic energy sector.

Under the Transparent Energy project, DiXi Group and NCREUS have jointly developed Energy Online, a mobile app designed to improve communication between suppliers and consumers. With this app, users can easily find information regarding applied energy-related matters (checking utility bills, finding tariff information, fresh stats, etc.) and quickly respond to wrongful actions or to inactions on part of suppliers and network operators.

For the same purpose, Ukrainian Energy website now features the “Place a request” instrument designed to help consumers communicate directly with information controllers in the energy sector.

Two projects that won at C.O.D.E., a contest of ideas devoted to the work with open data in the energy sector, are set to help ordinary Ukrainians. These are the two web portals, SUBSIDY.UKR and Energy Monitoring of Social Infrastructure. The former will help consumers with calculating their subsidy amount and utility bills, and the latter will offer information regarding energy consumption of budget-financed institutions.

The project also included a public opinion survey devoted to the awareness of Ukrainians of energy-related matters. GfK Ukraine representatives surveyed 3856 respondents aged over 18 years in all regions of Ukraine (except the annexed Crimea and uncontrolled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts). The respondents were asked a whole number of questions, in particular, what they know about the energy sector, what they regard as manifestations of corruption in the energy sector, what public body is responsible, in their opinion, for formation of tariffs, and many other questions. As a result, only 12% of respondents said that they are fully informed about the energy sector, while 50% of them believe that they have general knowledge of the subject and 30% said that they have insufficient information.

65% of surveyed Ukrainians who take interest in energy supply information say that their interest stems from the desire to understand how tariffs are calculated, 52% want to know how to save on utility bills, and 51% want to make sure that the tariffs are fair.

In February, a same-name online course will be launched within the project’s framework, intended for the broad audience of those interested in the energy sector. During four educational modules, 12 experts will tell the attendees how this sector operates and how Ukraine’s energy market is being formed, provide an overview of specialized legislative frameworks, and explain where to get and how to use data and statistical information regarding Ukraine’s energy sector.

The release of this material became possible thanks to the support from American people, provided via the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The opinions provided in this material are the sole responsibility of DiXi Group, and under no circumstances should they be construed as reflecting the viewpoint of USAID or the U.S. Government.

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