The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has granted final approval to five Meter Asset Provider (MAP) firms to sell 1.4 million meters to customers of the Abuja and Jos Distribution Companies (DisCos).
The permit to the pioneering MAP firms came 12 months after NERC launched the MAP regulation with effect from April 3, 2018.
However, electricity users may not get the benefit until May 1, 2019, about 13 months after the regulation was made.
A breakdown contained in a statement from NERC’s spokesman, Usman Abba Arabi, last weekend, shows that of the 1.4m meters, AEDC will provide 900,000 units using three MAPs. Mojec will supply 487,000, Meron will bring 213,000 units and Turbo will supply the other 200,000. JEDC has 500,000 meters to be supplied by two MAP firms, Triple 7 and Mojec.
With the approval, only seven states among the 36 and the FCT will benefit from the instant payment for meters and getting it within 10 working days. This is so as the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) covers Kogi, Abuja, Nasarawa and Niger, while the Jos Electricity Distribution Company (JEDC) covers Bauchi, Benue, Gombe and Plateau states.
2 DisCos, 5 MAPs to rake in N51.8bn
Metering is said to be the responsibility of the DisCos but due to the slow pace and the rising complaints of customers describing the estimated billing regime as exploitative, NERC said it has intervened to accelerate metering and ensure customers get value for the energy they consume.
As the MAP rule takes effect for Abuja and Jos DisCos from May 1, 2019, NERC said the MAPs would sell a single-phase meter for N36,991 and a three-phase meter for N67,055.
Our analysis shows that at the least cost of N36,991, the two DisCos and five MAPs will rake in N51.787bn within a 10-year period contained in the regulation if they are able to install the 1.4m meters. Using unit cost for a three-phase meter, they could earn N93.878bn for the 1.4m meters
The MAP regulation allows customers to pay upfront and get the meters installed within 10 working days. MAPs can install meters and the DisCo bills Metering Service Charge (MSC) in meter recharge system and deducted from customers’ energy units whenever they recharge the meters.
NERC added that, “These costs are inclusive of supply, installation, maintenance and replacement of meters over their technical lives.”
Uphill journey to MAP regime
Statistics from NERC puts the number of registered electricity customers at 8.3m. Only 3.6m, representing 43 per cent, had meters as at August 2018. There are 4.7m customers that do not have meters and are served the estimated bill every month. With the approved figure, the metering gap could reduce to 3.3m if it is implemented in the two DisCos.
Nine other DisCos serving customers across 30 other states are expected have finished their procurement from the 115 MAP firms granted “No Objection” by NERC and have had the commission approve their meter deployment before May 1, 2019, roll out timeline given to Abuja and Jos DisCos.
At a MAP regulation conference in Lagos in December, 2018, Chairman of NERC, Prof. James Momoh, told Daily Trust that, “This is a once in a life time opportunity in Nigeria where customers for the first time will not have to say things like, ‘I have no meter and I need metering device in my home and I do not like the estimated billing.’”
NERC initiated the regulation on April 3, 2018, and it was supposed to materialise with evidence of the 11 DisCos engaging MAP firms within 120 days.
Daily Trust reports that almost close to the end of the 120 days, NERC, in July, 2018, extended it by another 90 days, which ought to have ended in October, 2018. NERC, in December, 2018, had worried that the DisCos were not showing enough support for the regulation. However, Prof. Momoh assured that with MAP, the metering gap would be closed by 2020.
“We don’t guarantee that it will be January 1, 2019, but at least before 2020, all Nigerian homes will be metered and all customers who want power in their homes will be metered,” he assured.
NERC wants compliance, AEDC declares support
Assuring of strict compliance in its statement, NERC said, “The commission shall monitor closely the rollout plan of distribution licensees and overall compliance with the regulation and various service agreements by the MAPs and electricity distribution licensees.”
In a statement by the spokesman of AEDC, Oyebode Babs Fadipe, the DisCo said the commencement of the field operations of the policy midwifed by the NERC was a huge and visible effort on the part of the regulator to frontally address the metering gap in the sector.
Upbeat about it, AEDC said, “The metering programme will not only engender billing integrity and improve our revenue base, it will also cut down sharply the issue of estimated billing which has remained a source of concern to our customers.”
While customers wait for another 22 days to for this to operationalise, AEDC said it was currently working with the NERC approved providers to perfect the necessary logistics associated with the commencement of the field work.