The Nigeria‘s Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) recently revealed that the second phase (Phase One) of the National Mass Metering Programme will commence in the first quarter of 2022.
Chairman of NERC, Sanusi Garba, who disclosed this in Lagos recently stated that, about 980,000 electricity customers were provided with metres across the country under Phase 0, which was designated by the federal government on October 30, 2020.
He also stated that four million meters are targeted under the Phase One so as to reduce the metering gap in the country.
Garba said: “For phase one, which is four million meters, a Project Implementation Unit has been established. That unit is going to carry out the competitive acquisition by the local meter manufacturers to supply the meters.
“You have to go through a competitive process to get good value for money. We don’t want a situation where manufacturers unilaterally decide the price. That is about to start now. “
He also stated that the NERC was certain that phase one would commence in the first quarter of 2022.
Assessing the metering process
The federal government, in 2013, unbundled and partially privatised the power sector to establish a competitive market to improve management and efficiency, increased generation capacity, and address technical and non-technical losses on the distribution grid.
Essentially, metering effectively represents the foundation for sustainable revenue generation and commercial viability of the electricity sector.
With electricity as the product offering, electricity distribution companies(DisCos) are expected and equally required to accurately account for inflows of electricity into their network and outflows of electricity delivered to customers.
This enables them provide an assurance of fair billing and payments to and from suppliers and customers alike.
The implication is that metering must be a top priority for DisCos and the entire power sector value chain whose respective costs of service are all embedded in the final utility bill borne by the customer.
Experts have argued that the power sector value chain is wholly dependent on the DisCos to provide services to the customer and perform the role of revenue collections.
This critical role is only successfully enabled by an effective and comprehensive metering program that offers accountability and transparency as well as incentivizes customers’ willingness to pay.
However, there is no accurate figure in the system showing exactly existing metering Gap in the country.
But going by NERC’s conservative figures of 7.48 million known electricity customers, there are at least 5.8 million unmetered and faulty/obsolete metered customers in the country.
The president, Nigeria Consumer Protection Network, Kunle Kola Olubiyo, in a conversation with LEADERSHIP, observed that, outside the inadequate CAPEX provision, the other factors limiting investments in the sector and by extension metering programs include infrastructure constraints, liquidity challenges and high value chain losses.
Olubiyo who was a member National Technical Investigative Panel on Power System Collapses, System Stability And Reliability ( June, 2013 ), faulted current National Mass Metering Initiative which he said has not been able to address demand for pre paid meters by consumers.
Olubiyo, who was also member of the Presidential Ad-hoc Committee on Review of Electricity Tariff in Nigeria ( August, 2020 ), stated that, economic development and poor revenue generation incapacitates governments ability to effectively meter consumers.
Available data indicates that Nigeria’s total generating capacity is only 30 per cent of the total installed capacity due to technical and gas supply restraints and the available 30 per cent generation capacity further records a 52 per cent loss across the value chain from generation to distribution.
This certainly limits the amount of revenue that can be generated by the DisCos and the bankability of proposals to potential funding partners to undertake the required capital investments in metering.
According to Olubiyo, per capita ratio of Nigeria’s metering programme is very poor and that was responsible for 10 per cent achievement of metering in the just concluded phase 0 of the mass metering initiative.
The review of the MAP Regulations 2018 and the development of a new policy framework on customer metering by the Federal Ministry of Power, according to experts, provides an opportunity to look at how meter procurement by electricity customers can be further liberalised to finally address the perennial metering gap and estimated billing challenges in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).
Metering electricity customers, they said, has always been a challenge in the NESI and the major impediment to effective metering and closing the metering gap has been finance.
Olubiyo is of the opinion that the Federal Government lacks the financial capability to shoulder this responsibility.
“My advise and from investigations electricity consumers are ready and willing to pay for meters, and this can be done by making deductions through token from vending. So borrowing money to provide meters when there are other contending demands is needless,” he said.