*Some DisCos reject CBN’s N213b power sector loan
15 July 2018, Sweetcrude, Lagos — The Minister of Power Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has issued a threat to the electricity distribution companies, DisCos, to find a lasting solution to mass disconnection and estimated billing, or exit the market.
The minister issued the threat in a press briefing on the State of Play in the Power Sector, Next Steps and Policy Directions at the Ministry of Power, Works & Housing Headquarters, Mabushi, Abuja last week.
According to him, the government is tired of complaints on estimated billing and mass disconnection from members of the public, adding that DisCos should supply meters and desist from mass disconnection.
Recalling that when the public complained about the tariff approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Fashola said he was the one that stood in the forefront of explaining to the public even though it was the Discos who collect the tariff.
“In the face of this picture, where we have power to sell, with more to come, the number of complaints coming to Government for meters, which the DISCOs should supply, and for estimated billings, and mass disconnections when not everybody is owing, cannot continue”.
“Government must act and will do so. The DisCos bought these assets with their eyes opened, and they must compete to deliver or exit”, Fashola declared, adding that Small businesses who need very little power are not getting enough because the DisCos could not take the power to them.
The Minister expressed dismay that investment of GenCos was threatened because they could not utilize the capacity they have installed, adding that in order to improve service to small businesses, Government, acting through the Rural Electrification Agency, REA, was linking Small Power Entrepreneurs with markets like Ariaria in Aba, Sabon Gari Market in Kano, and Sura Market in Lagos which, according to him, contain approximately 37,000, 13,000, and 1,047 shops respectively, which are being metered by the small entrepreneurs who have offered to replace the generators of traders with more efficient power and meters.
According to the Minister, there are 15 markets in all which if successfully implemented would provide power to 85,485 shops, empower 205,000 SMEs and create 2,000 jobs during the installation and after in operation and maintenance adding, “The DisCos are agitating that this should not happen, yet they offer no solution.”
On what government has been doing to assist the DisCos and other operators to deliver power, Fashola said as facilitator of business and enabler of the private sector, government had, through the Central Bank of Nigeria, made available the sum of N213 Billion to the Power Sector at a concessionary interest rate, below market rate, to GenCos and DisCos adding, however, that some DisCos had shied away from taking the facility.
According to him, “Probably because of the source of fund conditions, such as the opening of letters of credit attached to the performance, some DisCos have not taken the money”, adding that currently, NERC detected “an unauthorised use of money by the Ibadan DisCo” and was now taking some remedial measures.