Federal govt urged to break meter distribution monopoly

The Electricity Meters Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (EMMAN) on Monday in Lagos appealed to the Federal Government to break the monopoly of distribution companies in the sale of meters to electricity consumers.

Mr Muyideen Ibrahim, the Executive Secretary of EMMAN, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said it would go a long way in addressing the challenges with estimated billings.

According to Ibrahim, breaking the monopoly will enable electricity consumers procure and own meters directly.

He said that it would also address complaints over estimated billing and outrageous billing from the distribution companies.

Ibrahim said that the association had always advocated that government should liberalise the metering arm of the power sector so that everybody could have access to meters.

“If every consumer has prepaid meter, it will allow them to manage the electricity consumption, and the Discos will collect revenue maximally without billing outrageously.

“But now the consumers are short-changed because they are being given estimated bills. It presupposes that the Discos are smiling to the bank while the consumers are suffering.

“Unfortunately, some of the Discos are complaining that they don’t have the fund to invest massively in metering, whereas the meters are available in the various warehouses of the manufacturers.

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“If the telecom sector could be liberalised, why not metering? The only thing is that it will enhance the whole power sector and also add value as well,’’ he said.

The association scribe stressed the need to convene a metering summit where all stakeholders would come together to discuss challenges facing the Discos and meter manufacturers.

He said that manufacturers had invested massively in meters but unfortunately, they did not have enough patronage for them to do more.

“It would only be driven by technology. The key thing is the metering code and specification that all the meter manufacturers will comply to.

“Liberalising metering in the country will enable all the consumers to have easy access to meters and the issue of estimated billings will just be a thing of the past.

“The local meter manufacturers should be encouraged, and as such the government should provide an enabling environment and facilities such as power for them, because they all rely on generating sets to run their businesses.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should attract manufacturers with intervention funds at single interest rate, this will enable them to import basic raw materials from overseas’’.

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According to him, CBN should also allow manufacturers to have unfettered access to Forex as well.

This, he noted would enable manufacturers to produce at full capacity, employ more Nigerians and also contribute to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), had in 2017 released Draft Meter Asset Providers Regulation for distribution licensee for the electricity distribution company.

The regulation allows distribution companies to own such meters and repay the customers through energy credits over a period not exceeding five years.

The commission is also planning to introduce meter asset providers into the power sector and will be expected to supply and install meters within 21 working days of payment.

This will however be at the premises of electricity customers who choose the option of paying for the meters.

A meter asset provider is an entity that is granted a permit to give metering services, which may include meter financing, procurement, meter tests, supply, installation, maintenance and replacement.

However, the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), the umbrella body of the electricity distribution companies had raised concerns over the draft regulation.

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