• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Nigerians devise coping strategies as electricity cost surges by over 300% after Band A tariff hike

…Embrace energy-efficient appliances to reduce consumption

…Form the habit of turning off lights when not in use

…Altering daily routines

The cost of energy in Nigeria has reached unprecedented heights following a substantial tariff increase by the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) for customers on Band A.

This development has forced many affected customers to devise coping strategies to reduce the cost of electricity for their businesses and homes.

In April, NERC raised the tariff for these consumers from N68 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to N225/kWh. Although a subsequent reduction in May brought the tariff down to N206.80/kWh, this adjustment has done little to alleviate the financial burden on the affected businesses and households.

Read also: Nigeria’s electricity tariff hike: A reckless move in need of urgent correction

This policy change has been implemented amid soaring inflation rates for food and other essential commodities, exacerbating the economic hardships faced by many Nigerians.

Consequently, consumers are grappling with an over 300 percent increase in their electricity costs, prompting widespread discontent and calls from the organised labour for the tariff to be reverted to N68/kWh.

“I know someone paying 14m Naira a month to @aedcelectricity currently. With the new increase it means they will need 40m Naira a month. @NERCNG please tell us how you want hotels, malls and businesses to survive?” Mohammed Jammal, an X user with the handle @whitenigerian, posted in April.

Jammal later quoted the post with a picture in May, showing that the person paid N47 million for electricity within a month. He didn’t clarify if the energy was used by a household or business, however, many X users argued that the bill showed that it was used by a manufacturing company or a hotel.

Many affected Nigerians have devised different measures to cut the cost of energy as the economy bites harder.

Common strategies include reducing electricity consumption, shifting to alternative energy sources like solar power, and altering daily routines to minimise electricity use. However, these measures are often stopgap solutions that do not address the root problem of affordability and reliable energy access.

Aisha Suleiman runs a small tailoring shop in Lagos. With the tariff hike, her monthly electricity bill has more than tripled. “I used to pay around N10,000 monthly, but now it’s over N35,000,” she lamented. To cope, Aisha has had to reduce her shop’s operating hours and rely more on manual sewing machines. “It’s hard because the electric machines are faster and more efficient. My productivity has dropped, and so has my income,” she added.

Michael, an IT expert in Ikeja area of Lagos, has invested in solar panels for his home office. “It was expensive, but it’s better than paying exorbitant electricity bills. I’m just fortunate I could afford it,” he acknowledges, aware that many others cannot.

Adebayo, a barber in Lagos, recounts his shock upon receiving his latest electricity bill. “The cost has more than tripled. To keep my business running, I’ve had to raise my prices, but I’m worried I’ll lose customers,” he says. Adebayo is now considering investing in a small solar panel system to power his clippers and lights, hoping to cut down his reliance on the grid.

Adeola Ajayi, a mother of three in Abuja, shares her family’s struggle to adjust to the new rates. “We used to leave the lights on for the children to study. Now, we’re strict about turning off every light when not in use,” she explains. Adeola and her husband are also exploring energy-efficient appliances to reduce their consumption.

While the intention behind the tariff hike might be to ensure the financial viability of the electricity sector, its impact on ordinary Nigerians has been overwhelmingly negative.

The urgent need for a more balanced and sustainable approach to energy pricing in Nigeria is clear. Until a more equitable solution is found, the burden of high electricity costs will continue to weigh heavily on households and businesses across the nation.

Labour unions protest against electricity tariff hike

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) protested at distribution company offices on Monday against the electricity tariff increase for Band A customers.

The unions disrupted activities at the offices of Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, Jos Electricity Distribution Company, Benin Electricity Distribution Company, Yola Electricity Distribution Company, Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, and the Electricity Regulatory Commission of Nigeria.

The organised labour demanded a reversal of the tariff increase for Band A customers.

During the protest, Abimbola Fasasi, TUC Osun state chairman, stated that the protest’s purpose was to inform the federal government of the rejection of the tariff increase by Nigerians.

Fasasi called for a reversal of the tariff decision, criticising the government’s power investment without tangible results and the financial burden on citizens. He indicated potential outcomes from the protest within two to three weeks and mentioned a possible total strike if no reversal occurs.

“The FG must reverse its decision on electricity tariff increment. We do not want it at this time. The government has to develop and improve on electricity generation and supply.

“How many megawatts is Nigeria generating? They are just pumping money into power without results and they want to heap the expenses on Nigerians,” Fasasi said.

Christopher Arapasopo, NLC Osun state chairman, insisted on reversing the tariff hike, citing the negative impact on citizens and inadequate power supply.

Clement Fatuase, TUC Ondo state chairman, appealed to President Bola Tinubu to halt economic policies that have been detrimental over the past year.

Reversal of electricity tariff hike will derail reform plan – Power Minister

Adebayo Adelabu, the minister of power, stated that reversing the electricity tariff increase would hinder the energy sector’s reform and the enhancement of supply to Nigerians.

Speaking at Aso Villa following the two-day marathon Federal Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Adelabu assured Labour that the government is considering their demands.

He commented on the necessity of avoiding a return to previous low electricity generation levels experienced in February and March. He mentioned the positive effects of reforms initiated in April, leading to improved electricity supply.

Adelabu urged Labour not to disrupt the industry’s reform plan, highlighting a documented roadmap aimed at providing reliable and affordable electricity in Nigeria. He acknowledged the long-term decay in the sector and the need for collective sacrifice to achieve lasting improvements.

He concluded by expressing optimism for a peaceful resolution with the labour unions, emphasising the importance of their cooperation and partnership for government success.

He said: “I don’t want us to go back to the situation we were in February and March when we had very low generation. We all felt the impact of this whereby the electricity supply was very low and every household, every company, and every institution, felt it. From the little reform that we’ve embarked upon since the beginning of April, we have seen the impact that electricity has improved and it can only get better.

“My appeal is that they should please not derail or distract our transformation plan for the industry. We have a documented reform roadmap to take us to our desired destination, where we’re going to have reliable, functional, cost-effective and affordable electricity in Nigeria. It cannot be achieved overnight because this is a decay of almost 60 years, which we are trying to correct.

“Nobody promised us or assured us that the road will be smooth. We knew it was going to be rough, but we must weather the storm, which is going to be temporary.

“It requires a lot of sacrifice from everybody; from the government’s side, from the people’s side, from the private sector side. So, we must bear this sacrifice for us to have a permanent gain.”

“We have heard the demands; we’re going to look at them. We’ll make further engagements and I believe we’re going to reach a peaceful resolution with Labour because no government can succeed without the cooperation, collaboration and partnership of Labour unions.

“So, we welcome the peaceful protest and I’m happy that it was not a violent protest. They’ve made their positions known and the government has taken in their demands and we’re looking at them.”