Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
The electricity distribution companies (Discos) in the country’s power supply chain Sunday blamed the federal government’s high import duty on meters for the difficulty in providing the infrastructure for their customers.
The power distributors maintained that among other hurdles that are slowing the firms’ 2021 metering target of the Meter Asset Providers (MAP) regulation, the inability to clear the goods from the ports remains a major setback for the industry.
Many of the Discos, including the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), have recently put the federal government charges at 35 per cent, which has made it almost impossible to get meters into the country.
Coming under their umbrella, the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), the Discos called on the federal government to intervene in finding a means to cut the duty on imported meters, to enable faster metering for their customers towards ending the estimated billing regime.
The statement issued by the Executive Director, Research and Advocacy at ANED, Mr Sunday Oduntan, said some of the MAP companies have the capacity to install about 3,000 meters per day for the Discos if the meters are available.
“These are separate companies but Discos support Meter Assets Providers (MAP) and we want them to succeed.
“There should be zero per cent import duty on meters. We must assist local meter manufacturers to bring in components duty-free until Ajaokuta Steel Company is ready. The high import duty at the ports is killing the power sector.
“When customers are metered, they would be happy. Estimated billing is not good for the Discos’ revenue collection drive.
“While those importing meters are finding it hard because of the import duty, the local meter manufacturers are also finding it difficult to continue production because they have to pay import duty on at least seven different components which they import for use in producing the meters in Nigeria,” the Discos lamented.
They said that the power firms cannot be blamed for the current slow process of providing meters for their customers as that role was given to the MAP companies since the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) implemented the MAP regulation in 2019 and gave permits to metering firms to provide and install the meters for Discos.
The Discos also said that with the current import duty and other challenges befalling the implementation of MAP, the NERC order that distribution companies should provide meters for all electricity consumers by 2021 may not be realistic.
They added: “On the part of the federal government, what has it done to ensure that the meters are available for them to be installed for the customers of the Discos?
“There is an urgent need for the government to intervene so that there will be more meters available to be installed.”
ANED also said the Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA), which tests and certifies meters for the Discos, recently confirmed that the firms were to present 1.023 million meters for testing in the first phase of MAP scheme which began in May 2019 which they have been unable to do.
It said that only 273,000 meters have been tested and certified by NEMSA due to the hiccups the MAP firms are facing in the importation of meters.