As an average electricity customer in Nigeria the ultimate goal is to get a prepaid meter. However, there are signs that people would have to wait for longer than expected to be metered.
This is because Electricity Distribution Companies popularly known as DisCos are continuing to blame several factors which they claim are not their faults for the low number of prepaid meters deployed and installed for customers.
While DisCos are not directly the ones providing the meters, the Meter Asset Providers, MAP, are said to be battling these problems which in turn affects the actual numbers of prepaid meters that are deployed and installed for customers.
The trade association of DisCos, the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors ANED recently said in a statement that unless the federal government intervenes by cutting the high duty on imported meters, to enable faster metering for the DisCos’ customers would have to bear with a longer period of the estimated billing regime.
The group through its Executive Director, Research and Advocacy at ANED, Sunday Oduntan, told BusinessDay that some of the MAP companies have the capacity to install about 3,000 meters per day for the DisCos if the meters are available.
“These are separate companies but DISCOS support Meter Assets Providers (MAP) and we want them to succeed,” Oduntan said.
He further said, “There should be zero percent import duty on meters. We must assist local meter manufacturers to bring in components duty-free until Ajaokuta Steel Company is ready. The high import duty at the ports is killing the power sector.
“When Customers are metered, they would be happy. Estimated billing is not good for the DisCos revenue collection drive. While those importing meters are finding it hard because of the import duty, the local meter manufacturers are also finding it difficult to continue production because they have to pay import duty on at least seven different components that they import for use in producing the meters in Nigeria.”
The DisCos’ group said the power firms cannot be blamed for the current slow process of providing meters for their customers as that role was alienated to the MAP companies since the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) implemented the MAP regulation in 2019 and gave permits to metering firms to provide and install the meters for DisCos.
The group also said with the current import duty and other challenges befalling the implementation of MAP, the NERC order that DisCos should provide meters for all electricity consumers by 2021 may not be realistic.
“On the part of the federal government, what has it done to ensure that the meters are available for them to be installed for the customers of the DisCos? There is an urgent need for the Government to intervene so that there will be more meters available to be installed.”
ANED also said the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) which tests and certifies meters for the DisCos, recently confirmed that although the DisCos were to present 1.023 million meters for testing in the first phase of MAP scheme which began in May 2019. However, only 273,000 meters have been tested and certified by NEMSA due to the hiccups the MAP firms are facing in the importation of meters.