NERC: 8.1 million of Nigeria’s 12.8 million electricity customers are still unmetered

.The figure represents 64% of the total meter deficit
.Ibadan, Abuja, Ikeja Discos lead measurement efforts

By Emmanuel Addeh

After decades of efforts to provide meters to electricity consumers in Nigeria, the device has yet to reach at least 8.1 million of the country’s current 12.8 million customers, according to new data from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

Information from a presentation made by the commission in one of its outreach forums indicated that only around 4.66 million end users, representing 36% of the entire pool, had been fully measured at the end November 2021.

In the counting program update, the data showed that overall, the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IEDC) with over 2.07 million customers is leading the pack with the supply of 781,123 units of the device to its customers.

This is followed by Abuja Disco which has so far supplied meters to 702,716 consumers of the product in its franchise area of ​​1.582 million, as well as Ikeja Disco which has installed meters for 632,960 of its over 1.298 million customers. .

But when viewed from the perspective of the number of customers measured against the total number of customers in each franchise, Eko leads the pack with 56%, having been able to service 345,357 of its 615,660 customers with electricity. This represents more than half of its customers.

Still putting the number of meters supplied side by side with the total number of customers served, Eko’s efforts are tracked by Ikeja with 49% of its customers fully serviced, representing 632,000 of its 1.298 million customers.

Also in terms of percentages of total customers, Abuja came in 3rd as it managed to measure 44% of its customers while Benin and Ibadan both tied at 38%.

The Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) has a huge metering deficit despite launching several mass electricity consumer metering programs in the past.

A number of initiatives had failed and were replaced by new schemes, although estimated billing remains a major problem for customers without metering.

In September 2020, the Federal Government launched the National Mass Counting Program (NMMP) with the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which, although slow, has helped scale up counting efforts.

Like others, the metering system aims to increase Nigeria’s metering rate, eliminate arbitrary estimated billing as well as strengthen the local meter value chain by increasing local capacity for manufacturing, assembly and deployment of meters.

While the program expected Discos to roll out six million free counters over the next 18 to 36 months from its launch, to unmetered consumers, less than one million counters were offered nearly a year after the birth of the plan.

The President’s Special Adviser for Infrastructure, Ahmad Zakari, recently said that around N120 billion of capital expenditure funds (CAPEX) are being provided by the CBN for Discos to improve metering challenges.

He said the government, through the financing option of the CBN, has installed about 600,000 meters, although the number has increased markedly since then.

Supply of meters has not matched demand as unmetered consumers continue to grow, being in 2016 around 3 million registered customer accounts, in 2017 over 4 million unmetered customers, in 2019, more than 5 million and in 2022 more than 8 million unmetered customers.

According to the latest NERC data as of November 30, 2021, when comparing the number of unmetered customers to the total number of customers, Yola was the worst performer with 81% of its consumers unmetered.

Yola’s abysmal performance is followed by Kaduna with 79% unmetered customers and Kano with 75% unmetered customers.
In summary, at the end of this month, Nigeria had 12.848 million electricity consumers, 4.666 metered customers or 36% and 8.18 unmetered customers or 64%.

Among the unsuccessful initiatives, in an effort to bridge the metering gap, in 2013, at the start of the privatized electricity sector, the Credit Advance Program for Metering Implementation (CAPMI) was launched.

The purpose of the program was to relieve Discos of the burden of financing the cost of meters. As such, it allowed the customer to pay the meter upfront while the Disco amortized the cost through electricity supplied to the customer over a period of time.

However, the program fell short of its goal, as then-Minister of Energy, Public Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola noted in 2016 because “discotheques that collected money money from their customers to procure and install meters in their homes have mostly failed to do so. ”. CAPMI was finally abandoned in 2016, leaving the sector with a huge measurement gap.

In April 2018, the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) program was introduced by NERC with the aim of solving the same problem.

As part of the program, there were to be third-party meter providers engaged by Discos, thereby removing the burden of providing meters to Discos. Unlike CAPMI, it ensured that the customer received a meter from the MAP without making an upfront payment, while the payment was rolled into the customer’s monthly electricity tariff as an energy charge until it was fully amortized.

The program has not been as successful as hoped, with Discos failing to meet deadlines to engage MAPs even as import tariffs and lack of local manufacturing capacity beset the program.

The program was followed by the CBN launching the current NMMP to fund local production, and in some cases, importation of meters by meter suppliers and Discos.

On the importance of providing a measure of the electricity consumed, NERC said in the latest data that metering would give customers the ability to pay for what they consume.

This added that this would in turn improve customer satisfaction, eliminate esteemed Discos billing practices and improve revenue collection, which is critical to NESI’s financial viability.

“End-use metering is critical to financial viability, improving customer satisfaction and revenue recovery, while providing a transparent and accurate measurement of the kilowatts of electricity consumed by the customer.

“It provides energy accounting and revenue protection for the Disco to reduce its business losses,” he said.

Under the MAP program, Discos signed a contract for 6.5 million meters, with single-phase meters costing N44,896.17, later revised to NERC 58,661.69 due to what NERC called the exchange differences, while three-phase was N82,855.19, later revised. at N109,684.36.

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