Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja
The Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), the umbrella body of power Distribution Companies (Discos) in Nigeria, yesterday explained that not all meters from the metering schemes existing in the country can be given out for free.
Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, had last week stated that: “The government is giving the Discos the meters to distribute for free,” adding that underperforming Discos should ensure the fulfilment of contractual agreements with the federal government or face sanctions.
But a statement by the Discos in Abuja said that not all approved metering schemes currently active in the country offer meters at no immediate expense to customers.
ANED’s Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Sunday Oduntan, while making clarifications to the media on the different channels through which customers can obtain electricity meters, explained that customers are meant to pay under the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) scheme which was approved in 2018.
ANED stated that there are two metering programmes, namely the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) and MAP, for which consumers who cannot wait for free meters are allowed to make payment to get the device, but could be refunded gradually.
It stated that the NMMP is a policy intervention by the federal government, with funding from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which commenced in 2021.
According to the Discos, the objective of the programme is to expeditiously close the electricity metering gap. “These meters are provided free of charge to customers and as loans to the electricity distribution companies,” he stated.
Oduntan stressed that the first phase of the NMMP covered the delivery and installation of 1 million meters and was concluded in October, 2021. “ In the second phase, 4 million more meters are expected to be installed,” he said.
“The second route to obtaining a meter is under the MAP scheme which was approved in 2018. This avenue is available to customers who are unwilling to wait for the availability of meters under the NMMP.
“Such customers can pay for a meter under the scheme. The amount paid by the customer will be amortised and refunded over a 36-month period via energy credits, ,” Oduntan explained.
According to him, the twin approach is aimed at closing the metering gap in the next one or two years, so that estimated billing will be reduced to a minimum.
“However, of note is that under the second programme, with the advantage of expedited delivery and installation, the customer has to first pay for the meter before being refunded. Ultimately, the meter is free to the customer, via the energy credits,” he stated.
The implementation of phase zero of the NMMP, he stated, has been concluded by all the Discos, while waiting the commencement of Phase 1.
All the Discos, Oduntan added, are finalising the documentation and disbursement requirements of the funding for phase 1, with an expected kick-off of the same soonest.
“It is important to clarify that the Discos are operating within the regulatory guidelines established by their regulator, NERC, relative to meeting customer metering requirements,” he added.