‘Nigeria must make electricity metering compulsory’
Former President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) and professor of economics at Babcock University, Segun Ajibola, said until the government legalises compulsory metering, bridging the metering gap in the country might remain a challenge.
Stating that the prevailing practice of estimated billing leaves the consumers helpless and frustrated, Ajibola said there seems to be an intractable disconnect in the regulation of the electricity sector.
In the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) rooted in the Performance Agreement (PA) for the DisCos, the NERC, through the EPSRA Act of 2005, stated that power utility companies are charged with the responsibility of metering consumers. This is the basis for Section 32, Sub-section D, and Section 76, Sub-section 2 of the Act, which aims to calculate tariffs to achieve the legislation on liberalisation.
Indeed, when the question of who should provide metres resurfaced when NERC launched the Meter Asset Providers (MAPs) policy, the commission insisted that metering all electricity consumers remains the responsibility of DisCos even under the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) Regulations 2018.
Despite failing to meet up with the expected average deployment of 1, 640, 411 meters per annum, which would have bridged the gap in the last eight years, a fund meant for the government-funded NMMP scheme was allegedly misappropriated as metre suppliers, the DisCos and the powers that be in the sector reportedly forged figures amidst portfolio companies that could not deliver.
Ajibola said the primary right of every consumer is to be metered and his consumption of electricity accurately measured and billed.
“Rather than doing this, consumers are being fleeced through estimated billing; and subjected to settlement of bills for electricity never consumed. Another form of economic rent going to the privileged few. Until the law is amended to make metering compulsory, failing which Discos will be stopped from billing consumers, the injustice may continue.
“The CBN action must have been a reaction to records of high dollar allocation to the importation of meters and accessories, which never happened at the expected magnitude. Let us hope that someday, somehow, those concerned would be held accountable for their actions. If everything required for metering is imported, the cost of metering will be affected. And that is the price of delay.
“But if meters remain the property of DisCos, why are they charging consumers at all, and now proposing N219,000? It is confusing to me. We have seen cases of free deployment of meters and payment for the same meters even in the same neighbourhood to consumers of the same status billed the same way. The confusion is that much,” Ajibola said.
He said the only solution is a complete overhaul of the existing faulty and sub-optimal template in terms of electricity generation, transmission and distribution in Nigeria.