Nigeria: Over 4.6m Consumers Await New Meters as Rollout Commences

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With no less than 4,606,106 electricity consumers lacking meters, there are reservations about the implementation of the meter asset providers (MAPs) scheme, which begins today, as many households remain ignorant of the procurement process. Indeed, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), had issued permits to meter asset providers (MAPs), to begin the roll out of new meters by May 1, as part of measures top address issues of estimated billing by distribution companies.

On April 3, 2018, the NERC introduced the MAP regulation to new investors in the power sector to fast-track the roll-out of meters through the engagement of third-party investors.In his reaction, Coordinator of Electricity Consumer Advocacy Network, Akeem Balogun, expressed doubts that MAP would be able to resolve the issue of estimated billing and cover the metering gap, as NERC regulation only encourages customers to procure a meter from a third party at their own expense.

He further noted that if government wants the regulation to work, financiers should be provided for Discos or allow them to source for their own financiers instead of allowing customers procure themselves. Balogun added that the cost of meters which has been added to the current tariff is like double charging customers, adding that even though people are clamouring seriously for meters, the cost of 38,000 for a single-phase meter is too expensive for most Nigerians considering the current economic situation.

Chairman, Joint Action Congress of Electricity Distribution Company, Customers Right (JACEDCR), Amos Olawoye, stated that MAP was a good move by the government, but noted that the cost of meter which has been embedded in the current tariff, was a way to fool consumers.He added that since customers were procuring for themselves, he is of the opinion that at the point of installation, an undertaking should be signed by the customers, discos and the meter access provider to clarify things for future purposes.

Balogun, however urged NERC, to educate the populace that when they procure meters, their monies would be paid back in due course as they are just lending the Discos money to buy it for them. This he said, would clear the notion that they were procuring the meters.Under the MAP initiative, NERC stated that: “MAPs shall charge a maximum of N36,991.50 for single phase meters and N67,055.85 for three phase meters. These costs are inclusive of supply, installation, maintenance and replacement of meters over its technical life.

“The Commission shall monitor closely the rollout plan of distribution licensees and overall compliance with the regulation and various service agreements by the MAP and electricity distribution licensees.”General Manager, Finance and Management Services, NERC, Abdulkadir Shettima, at a forum in Lagos, said NERC is hopeful that when the scheme flags off, it would eradicate the practice of estimated billing to have happier customers.

According to him, the MAP would attract private investments, create a new metering industry and reduce commercial losses.The Managing Director, Mojec International Limited, Chantelle Abdul, explained that the MAP was a laudable initiative by the government to address the huge metering gap while also bringing an end to estimated billing in the country.

Abdul said the absence of meters has to be addressed to give Nigerian consumers access to affordable and quality power, adding that her company is well positioned to deliver high end metering systems.She said the first roll-out marks a new dawn in the sector which has for long been grappling with problems such as acute shortage of meters, estimated billings and huge arrears of unpaid bills, owed by electricity consumers.She however stated that privatisation has opened the market space for meter providers in the country, building the local competence to produce high end quality meters in the country.

The Chairman, Momas Electricity Meter Manufacturing Company Limited, Kola Balogun on his part, said that indigenous meter manufacturers had commenced increased production of meters to meet the deadline. Balogun said indigenous meter manufacturers doubled their production capacity to meet up the May 1 rollout date. Balogun said that MAP initiative would put an end to metering challenges faced by customers, adding that when the programme commences, it will ensure that consumers only pay for electricity actually consumed.

Authored By: Femi Adekoya and Tayo Oredola

SOURCE: GUARDIAN

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