CBN Ramps up Metering Intervention to Discos

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Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
The intervention by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the metering challenges in the power sector, has started to yield the needed results, it was learnt yesterday.

Last week, the Special Adviser to the President on Infrastructure, Mr. Ahmad Zakari, confirmed that the federal government was revving up its disbursement of a N120 billion capital expenditure (CAPEX) to improve infrastructure, especially to support the metering programme by the Distribution Companies (Discos).

It was gathered that a number of approvals had been made by the apex bank beginning from the last quarter of last year, with disbursements standing at N14.35 billion as at December 24, meant for the procurement of an additional 263,000 metering devices.
Despite all efforts by the government, the metering gap has been expanding, but the CBN has continued to close the deficit through the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP), which involves release of funds to the Discos.

In its Order No. NERC/246/2021, of March 4, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) stated that up to seven million customers in the electricity market remain unmetered, which is about 55.5 per cent of customers, with an estimated three million installed meters already faulty and needing replacement.

A source in one of the Discos, who declined to be named, confirmed receipt of the disbursements, stressing that it has started to ease the financial difficulties which the power distributors have had to confront for years without much results and has boosted revenue in terms of collections.
President, Nigeria Consumer Protection Network, Mr Kunle Olubiyo, recently told journalists that the metering intervention was a step in the right direction, noting that the Discos would be helpless without it.

He explained that since the power distributors have no investment to procure and install meters, it will do the industry a lot of good, even as NERC has built the money into the Multi-year Tariff Order (MYTO) that was approved early this year.
“Each of the Discos is expected, if they are given the money, they may divert them into frivolous things. The Central Bank of Nigeria now escrowing the account. What it means is that all the money now comes first come to the account.

“The CBN will now remove the one that is going for the meter. They will remove the meter component. It is loan they have given them to procure meter. The tariff they approved this year has taken care of meters. They have built meter purchase into it,” he stated.

It was further learnt that the Discos can now replace some of their obsolete distribution infrastructure such as transformers, poles and conductors with the CBN’s intervention.
Also speaking, a prominent energy expert, Mr. Michael Faniran, told journalists that the intervention would enable the sector to generate enough revenue to address the liquidity gap in the sector.

The CBN had said that some of the objectives of the fund would be to fast-track the development of electric power projects, especially in the identified industrial clusters in the country.
It further stated that it would improve power supply, generate employment and enhance the living standard of the citizens through consistent power supply as well as provide leverage for additional private sector investments in the power sector.