About six million power users are still paying for electricity through estimated bills despite the various metering schemes adopted by the Federal Government and operators since the sector was privatised in November 2013.
On January 8, 2021, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) released a report on meter deployment status as at November 2020.
It put the number of meters contracted through the Meter Asset Providers (MAPs) scheme and National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) at 7,588,972, indicating that over 7.5 million customers had need for meters at the time.
The report showed that a total of 508,812 meters were deployed through the MAPs scheme, while only 16,308 meters were made available by the NMMP at the time.
However, The Punch gathered from the Federal Ministry of Power on Tuesday that the deployment of meters through the NMMP had risen to 750,000.
A combination of meter deployment by both schemes showed that about 1.26 million meters had been deployed out of the over 7.5 million unmetered customers captured by the NERC.
Operators in the sector explained that the deployment of meters this year was basically through the NMMP, as the MAP scheme was not fast in meter provision.
The National Mass Metering Programme, funded by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), was instituted in September 2020 to increase the rate of metering through the provision of free meters.
The Meter Asset Providers scheme, on the other hand, took effect on April 3, 2018, introducing meter providers as a new set of service providers in the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry.
This came as power distributors told our correspondent that meters provided under Phase Zero of the NMMP had so far been deployed to customers.
They stated that many Discos currently lacked meters as only a few were on ground for distribution to the over six million unmetered power users nationwide.
“Under Phase Zero, they (government) had a particular number that they gave to each Disco and the target was to provide about one million meters,” an official with the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, who pleaded not to be named as he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said.
The official added, “Ikeja Disco received over 100,000 meters; Ibadan Disco also got over 100,000 meters; while some others got about 90,000 meters, as the allocations were based on the Disco.”
Explaining how the free meters under Phase Zero of the NMMP were acquired, the ANED official stated that the government worked with meter manufacturers to know their respective capacities.
The source described the number of unmetered customers in Nigeria as a moving figure, stressing that power users on estimated billing were being metered daily.
The ANED official explained that priority in the deployment of meters was given to areas where Discos recorded higher revenue losses despite supplying more electricity to these locations.
The source said, “In Phase Zero, what Discos did was that they deployed the meters to locations where they were recording losses.
“The idea was to close the metering gap as well as the losses. In locations where the customers get more than 18 hours and do not have meters, the Discos metered them. And if you refuse to get the meter, they disconnect you.”
A document obtained from the Federal Ministry of Power on the overview and progress of the power sector confirmed that the metering gap in the industry was about six million.
Under the section on metering, the government stated, “All meters (are) being procured locally creating jobs in assembly/installation. Six-million-meter gap being fully funded through CBN loans and World Bank.”
The Special Adviser to the President on Infrastructure, Ahmad Zakari, further confirmed the release of meters under Phase Zero of the mass metering programme.