April 21, 2024

Prepaid meters price hike: Stakeholders predict decline in demand, urge Power Minister, Adelabu to relaunch NMMP

Oredola Adeola

 

Stakeholders have predicted a decline in demand for prepaid meters under the Meter Assets Providers (MAP) scheme due to a 40% increase in the price of purchasing single-phase prepaid meters, as they urged the new Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, to intervene by relaunching the National Mass Metering Programme Policy.

 

 

Speaking with EnergyDay at the weekend, the stakeholders argue that the increase in price will negatively impact Nigerians’ purchasing power, especially with the current economic hardship and minimum wage still at N30,000.

 

 

They stated that the new development will lead to a decline in demand for prepaid meters which will widen the metering gap and increase the number of customers on estimated billings.

 

 

Dr. Akinrolabu Olukayode, Chairman, Eko Electricity Customers Consultative Forum, Satellite Town, on his part, recommended the review and floating of the National Mass Metering Programme Policy (NMMPP) to ease off the number of customers who might not be able to gain the required purchasing power.

 

 

According to him, since the minimum wage in Nigeria is still at N30,000, it therefore means that many Nigerians will have to save endlessly to procure these meters.

 

 

He said, ” The brunt of the harsh reality of a capsizing economy in Nigeria is usually on the end users (consumers).

 

 

“Ofcourse, the reason for the hike is the fluctuating United States Dollar rate. The hike in cost of prepaid meters was imminent before now, because there is always a push and pull effect(s) of a policy decision involving a hike in cost of items with composite appendages ($ rate and meter accessories).

 

“If the $ rate falls, will there be a corresponding reduction?

 

“Today, none of the vendors is claiming that they have excess in their repository or warehouse because it has to do with increment in their favour. But, when the $ rate drops, wouldn’t the vendors claim that they have excess in their warehouse hence making reduction of cost impossible? ” the Chairman, EKEDC Consultative Forum, Satellite Town said.

 

 

Dr. Olukayode also noted that the policy which guarantees a refund in units of energy for customers who procured meters under MAP has not been implemented by the DisCos. He therefore suggested that NERC should look into this.

 

 

He also revealed that electricity customers must be compensated one way or the other in order to cushion the effect of an impromptu and incessant hike of cost in metering without a corresponding appreciation of remuneration.

 

 

He also said that the vendors who have sent payment invoices of the old amount to some customers – who are still gathering the money to pay for the meter will have to maintain the status quo as the payment invoices cannot be retracted or reversed.

 

 

According to him, the date of payment invoices should be used to determine who pays the new rate in order to protect the customers who had earlier secured their payment invoices.

 

 

Dr. Olukayode suggested that customers should be compensated in order to offset the negative impact of sudden and frequent increases in metering costs without a corresponding increase in remuneration.

 

 

Mr. Emeka Ojoko, Executive Coordinator of NEPA Wahala, an electricity consumers’ rights group, said the number of customers applying for prepaid meters will reduce significantly. Adding that the responsiveness of demand to changes in price will produce that inevitable outcome.

 

 

The Executive Coordinator of NEPA exchange there asked the Minister of Power to reinvigorate the NMMP, “otherwise any plan by this administration to bridge the metering gap will suffer stillbirth.”, he said.

 

 

Adetayo Adegbemle, the Executive Director of PowerUp Initiatives for Electricity Rights (PowerUp Nigeria) in his remark said that it is unfair for anyone to expect the meters to be sold at old rate adding that the meter manufacturers rely on forex for importation of major components of the meters.

 

 

He said the manufacturers are finding it difficult to raise foreign exchange at the official window, adding that that was the reason why most of them have been unable to release meters since March 2023.

 

 

He further noted that Phase 1 of the NNMP has failed because the CBN pulled out from the project. This according to him is because the NNMP does not have a well-structured framework.

 

 

Speaking about the need for the government to restructure and completely reform the NMMP, Adegbemle said that the government can commit, for instance, part of the petrol subsidy saving to the procurement of prepaid meters for electricity customers.

 

 

Adegbemle also recommended that Nigeria should use initiatives to deepen homegrown solutions to metering instead of focusing on imported prepaid meters, which would reduce over-reliance on imported meters.

 

 

He noted that structured finance targeted at prepaid meters can be easily tracked and monitored by the Federal Government.

 

 

The Executive Director of PowerUp Nigeria, therefore suggested that instead of focusing on imported prepaid meters, the Nigeria Government should use initiatives such as this to deepen homegrown solutions to metering, adding that this would reduce over-reliance on imported meters.