Why DisCos blame government for low metering of power consumption

* Insist estimated billing is not good for revenue collection drive

*NERC’s order to DisCos to provide meters for all electricity consumers by 2021 may be unrealistic

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

For sundry operational challenges in the all-important sector of the Nigerian economy, especially in regard to inadequate distribution of power meters to consumers, the electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) in the supply chain have blamed it all on the Federal Government’s high import duty regime.

Mr. Sunday Oduntan, Executive Director, Research and Advocacy of Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), in a statement Sunday, June 21 disclosed that some of the MAP companies have the capacity to install about 3,000 meters per day for the DisCos if the meters are available for power consumers.

Mr. Sunday Oduntan, Executive Director, Research and Advocacy of ANED

According to ANED, among other hurdles that are slowing the firms’ 2021 metering target of the Meter Asset Providers (MAP) regulation, the inability to clear the goods from the nation’s ports remains a major setback for the struggling industry.

The Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors has called on the Federal Government to intervene in reducing the import duty on meters in order to fast-track metering for the electricity customers while winding down the estimated billing regime in the country.

ANED’s statement read in part: “These are separate companies but DisCos support Meter Assets Providers (MAP) and we want them to succeed.

“There should be zero percent import duty on meters. We must assist local meter manufacturers to bring in components duty-free until Ajaokuta Steel Company is ready. The high import duty at the ports is killing the power sector.

“When customers are metered, they would be happy. Estimated billing is not good for the DisCos’ revenue collection drive.”

Oduntan further stated “while those importing meters are finding it hard because of the import duty, the local meter manufacturers are also finding it difficult to continue production because they have to pay import duty on at least seven different components which they import for use in producing the meters in Nigeria.”

The power firms cannot be blamed for the current slow process of providing meters for their customers as that role was given to the MAP companies since the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) implemented the MAP regulation in 2019 and gave permits to metering firms to provide and install the meters for Discos, ANED contended.

The DisCos said that with the current import duty and other challenges befalling the implementation of MAP, the NERC’s order that distribution companies should provide meters for all electricity consumers by 2021 may not be realistic.

The Association stated: “On the part of the Federal Government, what has it done to ensure that the meters are available for them to be installed for the customers of the Discos?

“There is an urgent need for the government to intervene so that there will be more meters available to be installed.”

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Vice-President (Prof.) Yemi Osinbajo says Nigerians are willing to pay for electricity if the services they receive from the electricity distribution companies are constant and better.

Osinbajo expressed this view while featuring in a webinar on “Economic Sustainability Beyond COVID-19”, organised by Emmanuel Chapel, in Abuja, FCT, Sunday.

Vice-President (Prof.) Yemi Osinbajo in a virtual meeting at the State House, Abuja, FCT, recently   Photo: File

The Vice-President said it was not true that Nigerians did not want to pay more for power, saying that they had been unhappy with the poor service over the years.

According to him, the question really is one of service as there must be a way of guaranteeing service in exchange for tariff increase, which is really the point being made with the DisCos.

The needful should be done in power sector as the market failure in the power sector was mostly due to how the privatisation was done, he said.

Osinbajo also noted that the market has become problematic by not allowing market forces to determine energy price.

“We need to get to the market-based system in which the NERC would only serve as a regulator and not a determinant of the cost price of power,” he stated.

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