Various stakeholders in the Nigerian power sector have lauded the intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over its recent N120 billion intervention to close the wide electricity metering gap in the country.
The CBN had begun the disbursement of the fund for the procurement and installation of the electricity meters across the country under the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) in the phase zero of the scheme.
A number of experts have observed that the best results, which will impact the economy the most is to begin local manufacturing, rather than continuing with importation.
President, Nigerian Consumer Protection Network and Member National Technical Investigative Panel on Power System Collapses, Kunle Olubiyo, in his comments, expressed his support for local production of the electricity asset.
He expressed concern over the cost of meters as well as the tendency of some distribution companies to short-change consumers by importing meters which may not even read accurately.
He added: “Privatisation is still in its infancy. All over the world there are fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, like metering intervention by CBN. CBN can provide sovereign guarantee. CBN should encourage indigenous manufacturers of meters, not importers.”
In his intervention, PricewaterhouseCoopers’s Partner, Energy, Utilities and Resources, Habeeb Jaiyeola, said the support rendered by the CBN in addressing the gap was critical.
According to him, the CBN intervention will facilitate investment and ensure that the electricity market thrives, stressing however that the fund is a loan with a set period for repayment. “Its application has to be strictly monitored to ensure project objectives are achieved,”he noted.
Also, an expert, Joseph Tsavsar, said metering of customers became an issue because of the liquidity crisis the distribution companies are experiencing.
He explained that that crisis was due to inability to recover costs, in relation to generation capacity that is transmitted to the Discos against what was provided in the privatisation agreement.
Also, Executive Director, Power Up Initiative, Adetayo Adegbemle, said that there was the need to ascertain the accurate number of consumers connected to the national grid and their demography. “Without this, any intervention policy will always be short,” he argued.
He stressed that the CBN could provide funds for local meter manufacturers and for development of a metering ecosystem, aimed at resolving Nigeria’s metering problems, but advised that it should also be independent of the Discos.
To reduce the metering gap, ensure transparent billing system and close the debt profile in the power sector, the CBN had launched the N120 billion programme where about 6 million meters were expected to be delivered to consumers.
So far, only about 900,000 meters have been given while stakeholders are asking the CBN to overhaul the scheme in a manner that will halt the importation of meters and focus on local manufacturing.