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DisCos prioritise areas of low penetration, high energy usage in free meters distribution

Power sector revenue shortfall, illiquidity – Need for local PRG solution

Electricity distribution companies (DisCos) on Friday began distributing free meters to customers in the various franchise areas, and some officials of the DisCos said they are prioritising areas with very low meter penetration and high electricity consumption.

Abdulazeez Abdullahi, head, corporate communication at Kaduna DisCo, told BusinessDay that the DisCo would determine areas that will get meters and would not even those who have previous debts would not be exempted.

“For now we are determining where there is low meter penetration and those communities that enjoy higher electricity consumption, which are customers in bands A and B,” said Abdullahi.

Ibrahim Sani Shawai, spokesman of Kano DisCo, also confirmed that the intention was to reach all customers but distribution would start from areas where there is higher energy consumption and areas with very low meter penetration.

“Customers who have paid for meters will get a refund,” said Shawai.

Under the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP), electricity customers will get free electricity meters with simultaneous launches in Kano, Kaduna, Eko, and Ikeja DisCo franchise areas.

Ikeja DisCo, in a statement issued October 30, said it has commenced the rollout of prepaid meters under the National Mass Metering Programme approved by the Federal Government, with effect from today, Friday, October 30, 2020.

“In line with this programme, Ikeja Electric Plc (IE) is committed to driving the rollout through a series of one-day metering initiative across different locations in its network. This metering initiative is designed to ensure a seamless metering process that allows customers to register and be metered on the same day after following due process,” the DisCo said in the statement.

“For the first phase of the programme, which will run till the end of the year, Ikeja Electric is rolling out over 106,000 prepaid meters to customers across its six Business Units – Ikeja, Abule-Egba, Akowonjo, Oshodi, Ikorodu and Shomolu.

“Beneficiaries of this programme, which will cut across all locations in IE network, will not be required to pay upfront for the installation of meters. Rather, the modalities of cost recovery for the meters will be clearly defined and communicated to the beneficiaries,” it said.

The NMMP is to roll out 6 million meters for all connection points on the grid without meters over the next 18 to 24 months. It is estimated that this will impact 30 million consumers.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had committed that all Nigerians would be metered before the end of his administration and that estimated billing would be ended.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) approved guidelines for funding the mass metering programme on October 18 and rollout is commencing. All meters in the programme will be locally sourced, creating thousands of manufacturing jobs through lead manufacturers such as MOMAS, MOJEC and others.

The synchronous launch will be part of a continuous effort where all DisCos will go from location to location across the country with their respective Meter Asset Providers to install meters for all Nigerians.

Locations to receive meters after the launch include Bawo Road and environs in Kano metropolis (KEDCO), Governor Road/Tudun Wada in Kaduna (Kaduna Electric), Oshodi Business Unit in Ikeja (Ikeja Electric), and Yaba and Surulere (Eko DisCo).

The Federal Government is ramping up efforts on power reform and the metering initiative is part of agreements reached with Organized Labour on sector reform.

Though the DisCos have dismissed any notion that the free meter distribution programme would interfere with the Meter Asset Providers regulation, previous experience with meter distribution by DisCos has left a sour taste in the mouth of customers.

The Credited Advanced Payment for Metering Implementation (CAPMI) scheme was scrapped four years ago after it emerged that many customers who paid for meters did not get them.