BY MARK ITSIBOR, Abuja
Economic experts have said that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s N123.34 billion power distribution funds is expected to address infrastructural challenges in the distribution segment of the nation’s power sector.
This, according to experts, will equally resolve the lingering challenges of poor infrastructure and arbitrary billing of end-users, even as it would build capacity for evacuation of often stranded electricity.
While speaking with LEADERSHIP at the weekend, the experts believe this initiative Delilah give hope of a possible improvement in power supply across the country.
With an estimated metering gap of five million, electricity customers have repeatedly raised concerns of arbitrary billing by electricity distribution companies (DisCos).
In a communique issued at the end of the bank’s monetary policy committee(MPC) meeting held in March 2021, CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, said N33.45 billion had been disbursed by the apex bank to the distribution companies for
procurement of at least 605,852 meters under the CBN financed national mass metering programme, aside the N89.89 billion released to market stabilisation facility of the government.
Nigeria has a total of 8,310,408 registered active electricity customers, according to official data.
Since the power sector was privatised, only 3,704,302 (44.6 per cent) of electricity customers have been metered, leaving out 55.4 per cent of electricity users.
The distribution companies have been unable to dispatch generated electricity due to weak infrastructure.
Speaking on this development, economic expert, Stephen Kanabe said, efficient metering and prompt distribution of generated power will not only contribute to economy, but would enable the sector to generate enough revenue to address liquidity gap in the sector.
He said, it was worrisome the DisCos were not doing enough to bridge the metering gap, adding that, without government intervention in bridging the metering gap, DisCos may not show the willingness to end arbitrary billing of consumers.
Associate director, energy, utilities and resources at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Habeeb Jaiyeola, said: “government’s continued support to Discos will have an overall impact on the sector to facilitate the required progress, adding that, the federal government also has equity ownership in the DisCos needs to see to their successes.
“Previous intervention funds have been utilised to settle collection challenges. The plan to use this intervention for infrastructure development is a step in the right direction,” he stated.
Jaiyeola advised government to clearly outlined and monitored the intervention to ensure it achieved projected objectives, saying, the National Mass Metering Programme may need to be checked against some of its set objectives in terms of coverage, availability, and completion time.
Similarly, the national president of the association for public policy analysis (APPA), Princewill Okorie, said the funding programme by CBN would end estimated billing of consumer, which, he added, is critical to development of the country. He said, its proper metering of electricity consumers will ensure accountability in the power sector.
Former chairman of Nigerian electricity regulatory commission (NERC), Sam Amadi, had called for the support of the CBN intervention to meter all consumers.
“I support the funding for meters but I doubt if it will solve the problem because the DisCos will use the fund to largely replace bad meters and control revenue loss. But the rebate of unmetered customers will remain high and undermine any movement to a cost-reflective tariff,” he said.
Amadi called on the federal government to directly mandate full metering in a large scale and allow discos to charge whatever tariff that is necessary.