Prof. Chinedu Nebo, a former minister of power, at a town hall meeting in January 2015 announced an approved funding for one million prepaid meters to be distributed to consumers through the 11 Distribution companies (Discos) to curtail the ravaging effects of estimated billing.
“The president (Goodluck Jonathan) is going to launch it very shortly and has provided the funding to give over one million meters to Nigerians to reduce the gap and then allow the Discos to face a time when they will make sure that all Nigerians are eventually metered,” Nebo had said.
A recent ministry report puts the metering deficit at three million units but then the minister had said “Mechanisms still have to be developed on how to distribute these meters to distribution companies because they are the ones to deliver them to homes and install them.”
By the first half of 2015, a former permanent secretary in the erstwhile Federal Ministry of Power, Dr. Godknows Igali, said the meters were being procured.
“We are just concluding the due process for procurement. Meters don’t need to come in as most of them are already in the country; manufactured here or in warehouses already by local manufactures,” Igali had said.
Dr. Igali also confirmed that the metering intervention was part of President Jonathan’s effort to “put to rest commitments made during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration but which were not implemented and became the object of festering litigations.”
He said the issue of metering and the plights of electricity consumers’ overbilling will be addressed shortly, adding that “meters will be distributed very soon as the due process is almost completed.”
The Discos then pledged to install about 100,000 units of meters yearly beginning from 2016. An official of Abuja Disco said it is procuring meters with its plan to roll out 100,000 this year. “It started a pilot test last year and would soon be ready to deploy the procured meters,” an official had hinted.
An expert in the sector, Mr. Kunle Olubiyo, said with government still servicing its own shares of 40 per cent stake in the 11 privatised Discos, it should support to provide the meters and curb estimated billing which in itself encourages revenue loss as many people bypass electricity sources through illegal tapping.
On sourcing meters locally, Daily Trust gathered that NERC approved 138 companies in 2014 to provide metering services. Chairperson of an indigenous meter manufacturers, Mojec International Ltd, Mojisola Abdul said, “We have a factory and we are producing. If the Discos are ready to buy, and if the federal government is ready to buy, we are ready to sell to them.”
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola on assumption of office met with local meter manufacturers, and urged the Discos to patronise them. His Special Adviser on Communications, Mr Hakeem Bello, said the metering plan was caught up in some disputes that are being resolved.
He said: “Right from the minister’s first ministerial meeting, he spoke about disputes on certain projects in the sector which are being gradually resolved. The meter issue was caught up in that part of legal tussle.”
He directed Daily Trust to the Permanent Secretary, Power, Engr. Louis Edozien, for further details on the metering intervention and other issues in the sector.
As some of the Discos like Kano Disco begin the installation of meters, consumers are calling on the federal government to deliver on the promised one million meters to greatly reduce the deficit to about one million, if the Discos maintain their pledge of installing over one million meters this year.