As Nigeria continues to bill over five million electricity customers arbitrarily amid rising cost of electricity, some meter assemblers in the country have started exporting the facility to other African countries to survive alleged federal government’s flawed policies.
The novel development bolstered by opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), is fuelled by the monopolistic approach adopted by the federal government, especially in awarding metering contracts to companies with alleged inadequate capacity.
A visit by The Guardian to some plants and warehouses showed that while the federal government’s National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP), and the Meter Asset Providers (MAP) scheme struggle to disburse meters to deserving households, hundreds of thousands of the assets are stored up in some warehouses without patronage.
While the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the World Bank are currently investing in an attempt to close the existing five million metering gaps in the Nigerian power sector, the funding, mainly loan, is coming from the $3b, which the Federal Government said would be invested in the power sector in the next two years.
According to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Nigeria has a total of 8, 310, 408 registered active electricity customers. Since the power sector was privatised seven years ago with metering standing as a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) for the distribution companies, only 3, 704, 302 (44.6 per cent) of electricity customers are metered, leaving out 55.4 per cent.
On paper, the average deployment by the DisCos should be 1, 640, 411 metres per annum (i.e. quarterly average of 410,103), but only 157,173 (i.e. 38.3 per cent) metres were deployed during the third quarter of 2018.
Before the introduction of MAP, the Credit Advancement Payment for Metering Implementation (CAPMI) had been introduced, but discontinued not long after it came into being.That stoppage made room for arbitrary billing of electricity consumers, through the very controversial estimated billing. MAP, one of the two plans put in place to address the challenge has remained a mirage two years after. As criticisms continued to trail it, the Federal Government came up with the NNMP to justify the increase in electricity tariff. But the plan also panned out very slowly leading to the waning of the initial optimism and projections. (Guardian)