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Power consumers to wait longer as COVID-19 disrupts mass metering programme

...CBN disburses over N12bn to local manufacturers

Electricity consumers may have to wait a little longer to access the Presidential National Mass Metering, as local meter manufacturers have cited the Covid-19 pandemic as impacting the logistics of importing critical components of the meters, which Nigeria presently lacks the capacity to locally produce.

Businessday findings, however, show that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the implementing agency for the mass metering programme has disbursed about N12 billion to local meter manufacturers, who have also blamed Covid-19 for the delay in bringing in some components of the meters.

“Between October and November, most of the Discos are rounding off with sorting out consumers who paid for the meter under the Meter Asset

Provider Regulation Scheme before they could get into the government’s mass metering scheme. However, there was an inventory taking by the regulator for all the meter manufacturers to know what they have in stock so that the government pay off that stock,” Kola Balogun, the CEO of MEMCOL, an indigenous meter manufacturing company, said.

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Accord ing to Balogun,” considering the process of acquiring and procuring the raw materials and meter components across the globe, we could not meet up with the mass metering logistics, in addition to the clearing process at the port, all these affected the Federal Government one million target in the first batch of its national mass metering programme. These are the logistics concerns.”

“The metering target is not just one million but over six million meters, which would help us create capabilities and capacities for employment and facilitate technology transfer to consolidate on our indigenous production,” Balogun said.

The Federal Government has promised one million meters from October to December in the first phase of its provision of targeted six million meters to Nigerian households.

Available records showed that since the commencement of the initiative in October, only a little above 18, 000 meters have been rolled out, while further findings revealed local manufacturers still planning to exit the Third Party Meter Provision Order, which had some customers who paid for meters yet to receive them being prioritised currently.

Sunday Oduntan, chairman, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distribution said the distribution companies were eager to meter every consumer.

“There are still some logistics issues when it comes to mass metering. Through other initiatives such as Meter Asset Provider Regulations, the DisCos have been able to do over 500, 000 metering to electricity consumers. Metering takes a lot of efforts and logistics. It is not like buying a phone and slotting a sim card.

According to Oduntan, “currently, Nigerian cannot manufacture all the components here. Getting cargo across the ports come with some difficulties. The issue of forex, pandemic, Customs logistics cannot be perfected within three months in terms of metering one million Nigerians.

Data from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) currently put unmetered and unidentified customers at 4.09 million households. Obsolete meters due for possible replacement is put at 1.7 million. Also, unidentified and disconnected customers have a recorded figure of 33.1 million.

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