FG, W’Bank to Launch Power Sector Recovery Plan

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• Abuja Disco begins $150m consumer metering scheme
Chineme Okafor in Abuja
To respond adequately to the current challenges threatening Nigeria’s electricity sector, the federal government would in consultation with the World Bank, launch a power sector recovery plan soon, THISDAY has learnt.

Though no precise date or financial size of the recovery plan has been disclosed, THISDAY however gathered yesterday in Abuja that the decision to launch an electricity sector recovery plan was shared with stakeholders during a recent exclusive meeting the government organised.

Parts of the far-reaching decisions at the meeting were shared with THISDAY by sources who were in attendance.
The meeting was in collaboration with the World Bank to discuss the challenges of the country’s electricity sector.

Its recovery plan would among other objectives, seek to improve the technical and commercial performance of the privatised power industry, and restore its business viability based on the recommendations of a diagnostic exercise.

Reportedly performing poorly, Nigeria’s electricity market is currently going through tough financial challenges which analysts said could result in a total market failure if not addressed.

Based on this, the sources told THISDAY that the recovery plan was originated to turnaround the sector by helping improve its governance, reduce electricity losses both technical and commercial, and guarantee efficient sector investments.

According to the sources, the government and World Bank agreed at the meeting that there were causes and dimensions to the challenges of the sector, and that it needed to urgently restore its financial tolerance to attract significant private investments.
The World Bank, it was learnt, would in this regard, galvanise private and public investments through its various groups.

“The government and World Bank agreed on the need to prioritise actions that will strengthen the sector’s governance including the appointment of Commissioners in the NERC, restore investors’ confidence, attract public and private investment in generation, transmission, and distribution for enhanced service quality, protect sector revenues with improved metering and collection.

“The government will in consultation with the World Bank further develop its power sector recovery plan, and as a committed partner, the World Bank, including the IFC (International Finance Corporation), and MIGA (Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency), will bring their expertise in developing financing solution,” one of the sources said.

Meanwhile, Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (Abuja Disco) has launched an ambitious plan to provide prepaid electricity meters to 500,000 consumers currently without meters in its network.

Speaking at the launch of the mass metering scheme which was inaugurated by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Muhammed Bello, at the Abuja Investment Company Limited (AICL) Estate Apo, the Managing Director of Abuja Disco, Mr. Ernest Mupwaya, explained that the scheme would cost the company $150 million to execute within three years.

Mupwaya noted that the Disco was currently undertaking a customers’ enumeration exercise, and that the meter deployment would be done simultaneously, including in other parts of its network areas. He said a pilot scheme of 5000 was successfully done in Niger State.

“We are doing our customer enumeration now and estimate that once we are done, we will install meters in the region of 500,000 and they are of various sizes. The whole metering project and other ancillary services will cost us about $150 million,” said Mupwaya.
He further explained: “It will take us about three years because it is a huge exercise and there is no cost implications because the meters are being given free of charge to consumers.”

Similarly, the board chair of the Disco, Shehu Malami, stated that with the meter installations, the Disco’s Aggregate Technical Commercial and Collection (ATC&C) losses would reduce by about 17 per cent, while energy audit and accountability would be fostered.