Nigeria requires N170bn to provide sufficient electricity meters

21 December 2012, Sweetcrude, Abuja – For effective monitoring of electricity consumption, a whooping sum of N170 billion will be required to provide meters for all electricity consumers in the country.

The Senior Manager, Market Analysis & Compliance, Market, Competition & Rates Division, NERC, Mrs. Kanneng Gwom, said this in a presentation made at a workshop on the power sector post privatisation agenda.

Gwom said that the calculation of the distribution companies showed that N170bn would be required to close the metering gap in the industry. Six months after NERC gave electricity distribution companies the marching order to provide  meters to all consumers within 18 months, 2.8 million customers out of the 5,172,979 in the records still do not have meters.

This means that about 54.15 per cent of registered customers that consume electricity in the country do not have meters.

A committee on metering set up by NERC had in May revealed that the total number of customers captured in the records of operators of the Nigerian electricity supply industry was 5,172,979.

Gwom also said the Power Consumer Assistance Fund provided for in the Nigerian
Electricity Reform Act, 2005 would take off soon.

“The Discos have estimated that N170bn is needed to purchase 2.8 million meters required to meet the metering gap in the Nigerian electricity supply industry,” she said.

Lack of adequate metering has been responsible for estimated billing, which often leads to electricity companies slamming crazy bills on consumers.

As a way of reducing the friction between the electricity distribution companies and
consumers as a result of estimated billing, NERC had recently come up with what it called standardised estimated billing, but this has not been adopted by all the companies as some have yet to understand the methodology.

Findings by the metering committee led by Mr. Bamidele Aturu also confirmed that officials of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria and the successor companies preferred charging customers through estimation in order to promote incidences of over-billing.

While presenting the report, Aturu, a human rights lawyer, had said the committee observed in the course of its inquiry that the distribution companies had meters in stock but failed or refused to supply and install them, even when many customers had paid for meters.

He said the committee further established that the chief executives of the distribution companies were responsible for the inefficiency and unaccountability that permeated the system.

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