The number of prepaid meters supplied by the electricity distribution companies (Discos) in Nigeria increased by 6.2 percent quarter-on-quarter to 1.59 million to 1.50 million in Q4 2017,according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) power sector report released on July, 27th 2018
“Benin Disco has the highest percentage with 17.79% of the total customers metered. This is closely followed by Abuja Disco with 16.40% and Ibadan Disco with 15.99% respectively while Yola Disco recorded the least percentage of the total customers metered with 2.35% and closely followed by Jos Disco and Kano disco with 3.42% and 3.97% respectively,” said the report.
However, players in the meter industry have said that the rate of distribution by the Discos is still too low to bridge the over 4.7 million metering gap that currently exists in the country as at December 2017.
Chantelle Abdul, managing director of Mojec International Limited, an indigenous prepaid meter manufacturing company in Lagos said, “The Discos have a contractual obligation to get meters to their customers. The issue is that their collection is not meeting their target and that will make them not to have enough money to use in paying back the market operators for the energy that they consume,”
“For example, if they are rolling out a minimum N100,000 meter contract for utility ,you are talking about billions of naira,” Abdul added.
The DisCos were obligated by NERC virtue of their performance contracts to provide meters for customers however they were constrained by foreign exchange challenges which sent the price of meters through the roof. They further said they were handicapped by poor collections and low tariff due to refusal of the government to allow them raise electricity tariff.
Meanwhile, the prepaid metering system provides an effective mechanism for measuring electricity supplied in the country as the device makes it possible to accurately measure power consumption.
This is why NERC came up with a Meter Asset Provider (MAP) regulation that allows for third party investment in electricity metering which consumers would offset after an agreed period based on instalments.
“I am expecting that the number of prepaid meters will continue to increase due to the Meter Access Provider (MAP) regulation introduced by NERC which we are about to embark on. This will mean more meters will be distributed and investors will come into the market to invest and buy more meters,” Abdul said.
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in March issued a deadline of August 1, 2018 to the 11 Discos to engage the services of MAP, stressing that the move is aimed at achieving the 3-year metering target prescribed by the Commission.
NERC had earlier announced the introduction of the MAP Regulation, which it said would become effective on April 3, 2018, stressing that the initiative is designed to ensure that electricity customers only pay for what they actually consume.