The federal government has once again reassured Nigerians that it will conclude the electricity mass metering project aimed at closing the gap of unmetered Nigerians by 2023.
The special adviser on infrastructure to the president, Ahmad Zakari, disclosed this in an exclusive chat with LEADERSHIP at the weekend.
The federal government had launched the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) to provide over four million meters to Nigerians. In the first phase, called phase 0, according to Zakari, over 900,000 meters were deployed.
The programme would ensure that consumers were billed appropriately for the electricity they consumed through the installation of free meters in unmetered households and business premises.
The NMMP is fully funded by the World Bank and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
Reacting to concerns raised by some Nigerians over whether the government would be able to fill the metering gap before the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Zakari said, ‘‘This government will complete the metering gap by 2023 and it’s easy to tell why. The maximum number of meters that has ever been distributed in Nigeria was 200,000 annually. This year alone, we have distributed over 900,000 meters. We should be judged by the progress we are making.
‘‘The federal government has provided liquidity for the metering as loans to the electricity distribution companies (Discos) and they should provide it free to the citizens. Prior to this, the Discos will say they don’t have funds. With the government’s concerted effort to be able to provide liquidity, that has changed the trajectory. In the past, the maximum meter we could install in a month when we started this NMMP was maybe 15,000 a month. However, at the end phase 0, we have wrapped up our local capacity to about 100,000 meters per month. By next year, when we move to the execution of phase 1, that installation capacity will expand.’’
He also said that through the creation of NMMP as well as the discussions and expectation of phase 1 of the programme, there have been four new metering factories established in Kaduna, Lagos and Anambra states and that existing factories are improving their capacities.
‘‘10,000 jobs have been created under the NMMP in assembly and installation,’’ he said.
He commended the impact of the NMMP saying there are testimonials from citizens who have received free meters.
‘‘We are going to continue with phase 1 in order to eliminate the metering gap. The metering gap is big. Prior to President Buhari’s administration, there has never been any funding for metering initiative in Nigeria. We privatised in 2013, there was no metering programme until 2020. There had been a lot of built-up demand which essentially made the citizens want a quick solution.
‘‘This administration is very focused and believes that it is fair that anyone consuming electricity should be able to understand how much they are consuming transparently.
“We are very committed as a government to eliminating the metering gap and we’ll continue to work with the relevant parties. We have completed phase o with over 900,000 meters already delivered to the Discos, only final installation is ongoing. We started the process of phase 1 a month ago and we’ll continue to work.
‘‘We’ll go after any defaulter to ensure nobody is selling free meters to Nigerians. Our regulation allows for strict penalties. The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) can issue financial penalties to erring Discos.’’