*Says exploitation through estimated billing persists
By Udeme Akpan
About 60 per cent of Nigeria’s electricity consumers lack prepaid meters and are currently being exploited through estimated billing.
Disclosing this in its Second Quarter 2020 Report, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, said: “The huge metering gap for end-use customers remains a key challenge in the industry. The records of the Commission indicate that, of the 10,516,090 registered electricity customers as at 30 June 2020, only 4,234,759 (40.27%) have been metered.
“Thus, 59.73% of the registered electricity customers are still on estimated billing which has contributed to customer apathy towards payment for electricity bills. In comparison with the first quarter of 2020, the numbers of registered and metered customers increased slightly by 0.36% and 0.07% respectively.
“The increase in registered customers was, in addition to new connections, due largely to the on-going customer enumeration exercise by DisCos through which unregistered consumers of electricity were brought unto the DisCos’ billing platform. Similarly, the increase in metered customers was attributed to the roll-out of meters under the MAP scheme. The Abuja, Benin and Eko DisCos had metered more than 50% of their registered electricity customers as at 30 June 2020.”
However, NERC, which ordered the DisCos, to ensure the metering gap is closed by the end of 2021, stated: “To ensure speedy metering of electricity customers in order to meet the target of closing the metering gap in NESI by 31 December 2021, the Commission, in addition to securing waiver of the levy previously imposed on imported meters, continued its monitoring of DisCos’ implementation of and compliance with the provisions of the MAP Regulations to fast-track meter roll-out.”
Continuing, it stated: “During the second quarter of 2020, the eleven (11) DisCos received 203,116 complaints from consumers, indicating 0.68% fewer complaints than those received during the first quarter of 2020. In total, the DisCos attended to 189,684 complaints representing an increase of 1.09 percentage points from the preceding quarter
“The report shows that Ibadan followed by Benin DisCos had the lowest customers’ complaints resolution rates based on the proportion of complaints not addressed in the second quarter of 2020.”
Nevertheless, it added: “The estimated billing, metering and service interruption remain the most significant areas of concerns for customers, accounting for 64.88% (131,789) of the total complaints in the second quarter of 2020.
As stated in the preceding reports, to ensure improved customer service delivery, the Commission, on regular basis, continued to monitor and audit customers’ complaint handling and resolution process by DisCos. The Commission also continuously monitors the operation and efficacy of its Forum Offices which were set up to redress on consumers’ complaints not adequately resolved to the customers’ satisfaction by the responsible DisCos.”