By Udeme Akpan
THE Federal Government mistakenly based its metering calculations on six million households prior to the privatisation of Nigeria’s power sector. The Minister of Power, Babatunde Fashola, disclosed in a statement that, the federal government underestimated the number of Nigerian households scheduled for metering before privatisation. He stated that one of the omissions of the privatisation carried out by the last administration, according to him, was lack of compulsory metering prior to the privatisation of the sector.
He said that: “This is compounded by an inaccurate consumer projection of 6 million households, without a consumer audit. These are the problems the Buhari government is now trying to fix with the Power Sector Recovery Program, which I will discuss later.”
The Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission (NERC) on Tuesday warned that manipulated data with regards to meter installation, submitted to it by the electricity distribution companies would be treated as criminal acts; even as it berated the companies over poor implementation of their metering plans. Investigations showed that many consumers do not have the new meters, a situation which culminates in estimated billing and exploitation.
However, the acting Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr. Anthony Akah, has described as unacceptable the low number of metered customers by the 11 distribution companies since privatisation of the power sector. He explained that the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) with 6, 159, 775 customers accounts, has barely 52 per cent metering level of 3, 206, 599 metered customers, while it noted a metering gap of over 47 per cent or 2, 953, 176 unmetered customers.
The figure which was presented to the operators showed that the electricity distribution consumers as at March 2016, have collectively metered 403, 255 customers since they took over operations on November 1, 2013. About 38 per cent of this figure or 151, 724 were actually financed by the electricity distribution companies, while the balance of over 60 per cent or 251, 531 were financed by the customers through the Credited Advance Payment for Metering Implementation (CAPMI)- an initiative of NERC to close the wide metering gap in the NESI.
Expressing his dissatisfaction with the development, Akah said that the Commission was in the process of winding down CAPMI since most of the discos are not implementing CAPMI even as they are performing badly in their metering scheme.
“In line with the policy trust of the Ministry of Power, we will work on progressive wind down of the CAPMI scheme. As NERC, we are going beyond our regulatory landscape because you have not embraced the scheme as it should.
”People are complaining of being unfairly billed, they are not questioning the tariff as much as the fact that there is no noticeable improvement in supply.”
We believe we have done what is closest to reflective tariff. We are being challenged, now there is no going back on our protection of the consumers, we are stepping up our enforcement.
”It is grossly unfair if I want estimated billing stopped and you don’t provide meters for me. We are working on a massive monitoring; we will ask for names of people who have paid but yet to be metered”