15 April 2015, Lagos – Ikeja Electric, one of the two electricity distribution companies in Lagos, says it is investing $100m (about N20bn) in smart pre-paid meters to be distributed to its customers free starting from June.
The company said it would begin a pilot scheme of the deployment of the meters in May, with 2,000 units to be distributed, after which it would roll out another 5,000 in June and 12,000 to 15,000 units in subsequent months.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Ikeja Electric, Mr. Abiodun Ajifowobaje, said in an exclusive interview with our correspondent, adding that the two greatest challenges facing the distribution firms were inadequate power supply from the grid and inadequate metering.
Ajifowobaje said, “We didn’t have the opportunity of studying the system by the time we took over; so, it took a lot of time for us to look at the metering types that we need that will suit our type of environment and our type of customers.
“We have concluded that now and we have signed an agreement to the tune of almost $100m for us to meter all our customers starting from the first week of June. We are going to bring in smart meters. When we present them to the customers, everybody will be happy, and we are going to roll them out massively over the next three years.”
According to the purchase agreement with the government, the distribution companies are supposed to meter all customers within five years, he noted.
He added, “But at Ikeja, we have decided that we are going to do that within three years at no cost to the customers. We not going to collect money from our customers. We are going to issue the meters free of charge.
“I would have said we are going to start in May; but in May, it is going to be a pilot scheme, which is about 2,000 meters. By the time we get to June, when we will roll out massively, we are going to start with 5,000 and every month, we are going to be installing 12,000 to 15,000 meters. That is the plan.”
According to him, currently the company does estimated billing when people don’t have meters or when customers have obsolete, faulty or burnt meters.
“If you go to the NERC website, there is an estimated billing methodology, which is what we are following to the letter in Ikeja. We try as much as possible. I am not saying that this thing is perfect because no matter how well you give somebody estimated billing, what he wants is a meter and that is why people have asked why we have not rolled out our meters,” Ajifowobaje said.