NERC: DISCOs meter 1m electricity consumers , 42million left in lurch

Solomon Ezeme

There are indications that about 42.912  million Nigerians may have not been metered, as Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) disclosed that 1,092,399 customers have been metered by electricity distribution companies (DISCOs), under the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) scheme and the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP).

Given the official statistics that put households in Nigeria at about 43 million, the estimated unmetered Nigerians will then average 42 million.

This comes as experts call for more proactive measures from the regulator in order to close the metering gap in the power sector.
NERC disclosed this in its reply to a Freedom of Information (FOI) application by an electricity consumer group that requested for data on the number of meters distributed by the DisCos under both programmes.

The All Electricity Consumers Protection Forum (AECPF) had asked NERC to provide data on the number of meters distributed so far by the DisCos under the programmes.
In a letter dated June 28 and signed by Adeola Samuel-Ilori, AECPF’s national coordinator, the group asked NERC to provide the information within seven days of receiving the letter pursuant to Section 4 (1) (2) of the FOI Act.
NAN reports that the NERC, in a letter signed by Ada Ozoemena, the Commission’s Secretary, said “508,439 customers have been metered so far under the MAP scheme of the federal government which was flagged off on October 30, 2020, with a target of six million meters by 2023.”
The regulatory agency noted that “ 583,960 meters had been distributed under the MAP scheme, adding that 5,855 customers who had paid for prepaid meters were yet to get their meters.
On his part, Samuel-Ilori said the group had conducted a survey on customers who paid under the MAP scheme and were yet to get their meters.
He said the number was higher than the figures released by NERC, adding that the group would soon send FOI request to the various DISCOs to get the detailed breakdown.
“It is necessary to have this data by our group to help fulfill one of the cardinal objectives, which includes monitoring the activities of power sector stakeholders as they affect the consumers”.
Reacting, Professor Wumi Iledare, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, GNPC Professor & Chair in Petroleum Economics & Management, Institute for Oil and Gas Studies, Cape Coast, Ghana, said: “Government is just too keen in providing ad hoc solutions to perpetual problems. I have said it over and over again. Let me say it one more time, Ministry of Power must stay away from commercial and regulatory decisions.

“Leave tariff and regulatory framework to an independent NERC. Let DISCOs invest in metering and invoke penalty for failure. This is the way to take us out of darkness.

“You have to understand what is at play here. There is no economic structure to describe the electricity market in Nigeria.  I think Nigeria ran away from a vertically integrated electricity market conduct too quickly without proper pricing framework.

“The pseudo monopoly market imposed on discos is not well understood and capacity to regulate them isn’t there.  Interestingly too, the governance of the regulatory institutions is badly skewed towards geopolitical godfatherism like everywhere with high likelihood of good wages”, he said.

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