Electricity/Metering: Nigeria disproves World Bank’s report, says ‘it’s inaccurate’

*The Nigerian Government has challenged the accuracy of the World Bank’s Power Sector Recovery Programme report, contending that ‘the data from NERC is that 55 percent of citizens connected to the grid are in tariff bands D and E, which are less than 12 hours supply’, and not ‘78 percent of electricity consumers’ the Bank reported

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Disagreeing with the global lender in its recent findings on the country’s much beleaguered power sector, the Federal Government has challenged the accuracy of a World Bank report indicating that 78 percent of electricity consumers in Nigeria get less than 12 hours of supply daily.

ConsumerConnect reports the World Bank’s Power Sector Recovery Programme (PSRP) factsheet stated that the African biggest economy has the highest number of people lacking electricity access in the world, trailed closely by the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ahmad Zakari, Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Infrastructure, in a statement Sunday, April 25 however, disputed the assessment and said it was unclear what ‘empirical evidence’ the Bretton Woods institution used to arrive at the figures on power supply situation in the country.

The presidential aide said in the statement that “it is inaccurate to make a blanket statement that 78 percent of Nigerians have less than 12 hours daily access.

“The data from NERC is that 55 percent of citizens connected to the grid are in tariff bands D and E which are less than 12 hours supply.”

Zakari stated: “Those citizens are being fully subsidised to pre-September 2020 tariffs until DisCos (Distribution Companies) are able to improve supply.

“There is a N120billion CAPEX (capital expenditure) fund from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for DisCos to improve infrastructure for these tariff classes similar to the metering programme that is ongoing.”

The government also frowned on a certain aspect of the report which stated that 58 percent of electricity consumers do not have meters to measure electricity use, dismissing the data as unverifiable.

He contended that “it is unclear who did this survey, and what the timeframe is. All citizens that have got free meters report they are happy about the reform trajectory.

“To date, more than 600,000 meters have been delivered to DisCos out of the one million in phase 0 with installation ongoing.

“Meters are sourced locally and are creating jobs in installation and manufacturing/assembly.”

He clarified that service-based tariff (SBT) ensures that citizens pay more only when and if they are receiving a high quality of service.

“All consumers have been communicated their bands and bands are published during billing.

“It is inconceivable that anyone would imply that 4 out of 5 Nigerians are not intelligent enough to understand tariff classes and what they are paying for.”

ConsumerConnect investigations on which specific tariff bands or classes/sub-classes most consumers pay for as energy charges with their respective DisCos in Lagos and Abuja, FCT, revealed that several electricity consumers are completely ignorant of where they belong in this classification arrangement.

Likewise, many vendors selling the tokens for prepayment meters, who spoke with the publication in Lagos disclosed they did not know the exact amounts of power (in Kilowatts, KWh) for tokens consumers usually purchase.

Checks also revealed that most power token vendors would rather ask consumers to credit their prepayment meters with tokens bought to find out the exact costs of units/power so credited by their DisCos.

Despite the denial of the global financial institution’s assessment and published report, Zakari explained that his office yet enjoyed a robust working relationship with the World Bank.

He said the authority was perplexed that such a report would be released without the input of other critical stakeholders in the power sector of the country’s economy.

The Special Adviser said: “We have a good working relationship with the bank, but metrics around the Nigerian power sector will come from the Ministry of Power, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), while the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) also regularly publishes intervention data.”

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