The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is expected to give directive on imminent rollout of meters to electricity consumers by permitted Meter Asset Providers this week, indicating a possible relief to about 4.6 million unmetered Nigerians.
The Nigerian power sector has been riddled with lots of challenges post privatisation, with lack of metering of consumers a major source of worry, adding to the liquidity concerns confronting the sector.
NERC took the initiative through a regulatory framework called Meter Asset Provider Regulations (MAPR) to ensure Nigerian electricity consumers are metered adequately to address key problems of the Discos regarding revenue collection, which they consistently allege hinders investment in key infrastructure in the sector.
Nathan Shatti, commissioner in charge of finance and management services in NERC, whose office coordinates the MAP programme, told BusinessDay that the commission would meet with MAPS providers and Discos and issue permit which would enable certified MAPS to commence operations.
“As at now, the reports from the MAPS are being finalised, and the commission is going to sit this week to finalise and decide on those who have met the requirements before we give out the permit for them to commence operations,” Shatti said.
He said once the commission gives out the permit, those permitted are expected to commence mobilisation at least by April, and Nigerians should be able to see new meters rolled out in their names.
He further clarified that the MAP meter rollout should not interfere with metering of electricity consumers by Discos who had already sealed contractual agreements with firms to distribute meters.
”As you know, the regulation came into effect in March 2018. In fact, it was effective on April 3, 2018. In the regulation, we stated 120 days time limit, after which the Discos would come for the procurement process,” Shatti said.
“Unfortunately, the delays we had, such as tender and procurement delays for potential MAPs, made us extend the time to July 1, and then we had another 120 days for the potential MAPs. The 120 days ended on October 31, 2018. As at January, there are still issues with the MAPs, but we are addressing them as we should,” he said.
Shatti said the good thing was that “as at today, all the requirements from the Discos, as spelt out by the regulations, have been submitted to NERC”.
“We have an in-house team that is reviewing all the submissions. The report would be presented any moment from now by the committee, and we shall now look at Disco by Disco, if they have fairly and objectively done what is required of them,” he said.
It would be noted that following the commission’s approval of the MAP Regulations 2018, applications were invited from interested investors for ‘No Objection’ from the commission.
“The Regulation mandates electricity distribution companies (Discos) to engage meter assets providers who fund purchase, installation and replacement of meters to meet Discos’ metering obligation to their customers. This is to ensure that all electricity customers are metered, thereby ensuring incidences of estimated billing is reduced to the barest minimum,” he said.
Already, the indigenous meter manufacturing companies are keying in with a request from the Central Bank of Nigeria to create a single-digit credit line to meter manufacturers to aid effective execution of the MAP scheme.
“Essentially, for the scheme to be successful, we will need between N10 million to N20 million for each f the manufacturers,” Kola Balogun, chairman, Moman Electricity Meter Manufacturing Company Ltd, told journalists recently.
“It is a huge capital outlay. We urge the CBN to offer us the credit and also allow us to pay bank in single-digit interest rate,” he said.
Balogun confirmed that many meter manufacturers were at the point of negotiation in terms of execution of the MAP programme with the Discos.
Confirming this development, Shatti said the indigenous manufacturers are keen on extending the 30 percent local content provision in the meters manufactured for rollout to 50 percent to create more opportunities for indigenous firms. He also confirmed discussions were underway with local manufacturers to raise the local content provision to 50 percent.
Chuks Nwani, energy lawyer, told BusinessDay that the MAP regulation is a good initiative from the regulator, while expressing optimism in its capacity to bridge metering gap in the country.
“The regulator has done a good job, but they would have pegged the recovery rate on the financing on a short-term rate of three years rather than 10 years, considering the fragility of the power sector and the already existing liquidity concerns in the sector,” Nwani said.
Get real time update about this post categories directly on your device, subscribe now.