By Chineme Okafor in Abuja
Following a meeting with the Communauté Électrique du Bénin (CEB), an international electricity firm co-owned by the governments of Bénin and Togo, Nigeria has requested the CEB to pay up its outstanding debt for electricity supplied to it.
The federal government has also stated that it needed CEB to settle its outstanding bills to enable it maintain its supplies obligation to both countries.
This development was contained in a document detailing the proceedings of the last meeting of operators in the power sector, which was obtained by THISDAY.
In August, the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) disclosed during the monthly meeting of operators in the power sector, that some international customers owe Nigeria about $115.91 million for electricity supplied to them a period of time.
According to the NBET, CEB of Benin Republic and NIGELEC of Niger Republic were indebted to the tune of $101.46 million and $14.45 million, respectively.
Nigeria provides power supply to the two countries through the NBET and Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), with power purchased by NBET from the Generation Companies (GenCos) and transmitted to CEB and NIGELEC by the TCN.
However, the minutes stated: “The representative of NBET informed operators that a reconciliation meeting between CEB and NBET was held in Lome, Togo, where CEB was reminded to always make payments as at when due since the market was contract-based.”
“The Nigerian delegation to the meeting also requested CEB to pay the reconciled amount to enable Nigeria meet its obligation of supplying power to them,” the communique added.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has disclosed that the federal government will not interfere in the new metering arrangement between electricity distribution companies (Discos) and their customers.
Fashola, however stated that the government will monitor the progress of the arrangement through the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to avoid possible instances of exploitation.
Quoting him, the minutes of the meeting said: “He noted that after the decision taken to wind down CAPMI, some Discos had explained that their customers still wanted to pay for their meters based on certain agreements.
“He stated that the federal government would not stand in the way of such agreement between the Discos and their customers so long as NERC endorses the agreements which would not violate the Electricity Power Sector Reform Act (ESPR Act) of 2005.”
It added that: “He stated that the federal government would monitor and regulate metering agreements between the Discos and their customers through NERC to ensure that they did not use the agreements as excuse to relinquish their responsibilities to their customers.
“He noted that the federal government decided to promote meter deployment, compromised judgment agreement that would make N39 billion available for supply and installation of meters. He stated that while it was the Discos’ responsibility to meter their customers, the EPSR Act did not vest monopoly of meter supplies or retail sales in them.