By Ejiofor Alike
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola at the weekend gave a clear indication that the federal government would not compel the electricity distribution companies to patronise local manufacturers of prepaid meters.
Speaking in Lagos during a courtesy visit to a meter manufacturing plant, Mojec International, Fashola insisted that commercial transactions cannot be done by compulsion but by persuasion, reasoning and dynamics of the economy.
The minister was however optimistic that the local manufacturers would be patronised by the Discos, stressing that it is high time indigenous stakeholders in the energy sectors were embraced.
Fashola added that with Mojec’s capacity to produce one million meters per year, the metering gap in the power sector would be bridged.
‘’Look at the number of telephones that we have in Nigeria, most of them were produced in China. Imagine if we have the plants for their production here. With what we have seen in the factory, this may not happen in the power sector. I think that commercial things should be done by persuasion, reason and the dynamics of the economy,” Fashola said.
Explaining the reason why the Distribution Companies and the meter manufacturers should embrace persuasion and dynamic of the economy, Fashola said the strategy would make the power sector more competitive in terms of pricing and also competitive in terms of quality for the local market.
According to him, when the market is competitive in terms of pricing and quality, it will make more business sense to produce and patronise meters locally.
He expressed delight that there are Nigerian companies that can meet the metering demand in the country but wondered why there is still a huge meter gap in the power sector.
Speaking on the challenges of local meter manufacturers, the Managing Director of Mojec International, Chantelle Abdul said lack of finance to operate their factories and their inability to provide some kind of vendor financing to off-takers were the major challenges
“One of our critical issues at the moment is lack of access to foreign exchange. A lot of our manufacturing inputs rely on goods abroad. As I mentioned during the minister visit is that my goal as a manufacturer is to produce much of my manufacturing input locally here in Nigeria so that we go as far as producing our chips and the PCB which is the brain of the meter and all other component that is required. There is nothing that stops us from producing the battery that we need, the capacitors that we need. It is sad to say that we don’t have factories that produced those things here in Nigeria,” Abdul explained.
She called for the support of the federal government both at Central Bank of Nigeria in the area of providing foreign exchange for the manufacturers.
“We cannot afford to be borrowing at double digit rate, it will automatically increase the price of the meter,” she added.