Metering electricity consumers has remained a serious challenge in Nigeria’s electricity market as utility companies struggle to fill the gap eight years after the sector was handed over to private investors.
Data from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has shown that at least 8.1 million of the country’s current 12.8 million customers are unmetered.
NERC says that only about 4.66 million end-users, representing 36 percent of the entire pool had been fully metered at the end of November 2021.
In an attempt to fix this challenge, the Federal Government launched the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP), an initiative geared toward mass metering of Nigerians by providing a loan facility from the Central Bank of Nigeria to the DisCos for the procurement of meters for its customers, and the local meter manufacturers.
This is to ensure that it provides over four million meters as estimated billing encourages a lack of transparency and accountability, worsening tariff collection.
Prior to this, distribution companies across the country had already stopped providing free meters to consumers following a directive from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), which increased the price of the assets and contributed to delaying the commencement of the NMMP.
In the first phase of the NMMP called phase (Phase 0), over one million meters were estimated to be deployed in about six months but the process was delayed as prevailing challenges crippled the roll-out of the assets. At the end of the phase, over a million meters were reportedly distributed.
However, to resolve the challenges associated with the second phase of the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) which continued to push the burden of electricity meters on consumers, NERC announced the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) and National Mass Metering Regulations.
Read Also: FIRS, The New Number One Cash Cow
I’ll Build Strong Institutions, Be On Ground To Tackle Nigeria’s Challenges – Jack-Rich
Other Parts Of Nigeria Will Start Witnessing Terrorism Soon – Wole Soyinka
To ensure the Federal Government’s attempts to fix the metering challenges, MOJEC International, a pioneering company in local meter manufacturing is leaving no stone unturned to ensure unmetered electricity consumers in Nigeria have access to meters.
It launched the Mobile Meter Asset Provider (MOJEC Mobile MAP) initiative. The initiative was to simplify the processes involved in meter acquisition and ensures that customers get metered within 24 hours.
Group managing director, MOJEC International Limited, Chantelle Abdul, in a statement said the initiative was to bring meters to the doorsteps of consumers.
She reiterated MOJEC’s commitment to providing meters to the end-users because metering is critical to both the consumers and the electricity providers. This commitment comprises establishing trust between the consumers and the distribution companies. MOJEC will also manufacture over 100,000 meters for the business units under the Ikeja DISCO for the Mobile MAP.
Launched in April, the Mobile MAP initiative in partnership with Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IEDC), and Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) was to fast-track 24-hour meter delivery to interested customers through the MAP Initiative.
This is by extension a continuation of Phase 2 of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) approved ‘Meter Asset Provider (MAP)’ initiative, which has adopted as mantra “metering at your doorstep”. The initiative is aimed at consolidating the rigorous general meter installation process that includes KYC, survey, payment, acquisition, and installation all under 24-48 hours.
Team Lead, MOJEC, Titilope Oyelade, disclosed during the launch of the scheme at the Sango business unit recently, that the Mobile MAP initiative would run for the next two months across the various business units of the nine DisCos with whom the MOJEC currently partners with. She said that each DisCo is expected to meter at least 100,000 customers under the initiative.
Oyelade added that MOJEC initiated the Mobile MAP scheme in response to persistent calls by consumers who want pre-paid meters to save them from the menace of estimated billings and other under-table dealings that they consider economically strangulating. She explained that the process of meter acquisition has been so simplified that all interested customers needed to do was to register on their DisCo’s website.
It was gathered that there would be over 10,000 meters available to be given out monthly to customers at the Sango Ota axis and that the exercise would be a continuous one as long as consumers make demands for the meters.
The total number of meters currently distributed in MAP Phase 2 is 96,552.
IBEDC Business Manager, Sango Unit, Olujide Odutuyo, said the firm partnered with MOJEC because of its desire to make pre-paid meters available to all consumers so that each consumer would have quality measurement of the electricity they consume.
He urged the consumers to embrace the Mobile MAP as it will eliminate estimated billings and it is a faster alternative to the NMMP. Under it, he posited that consumers can get metered under 24 hours as all processes from KYC, to survey, payment and installation are achieved in record timing.
On his part, Michael Onuorah, head of metering projects, MOJEC, said to deal with the challenge of extortion in the industry, MOJEC in conjunction with Ikeja DisCo has developed an automated payment reference system with PayStack and Remitta through which customers can initiate payment for their meters.
“This promotes transparency and accountability. We believe it will hasten the Federal Government’s mass metering agenda.”
Smart metering allows electricity consumers to manage their consumption and eradicate outrageous estimated billing. It also beneﬁts electricity distribution companies by providing revenue protection services, detecting energy and bypass incidents, and issuing reports for events of tampering.
Oluyemi Ayanga, Manager, Shomolu Business unit, Ikeja Electric said; “Consumers are now happy because they can now manage what they are consuming in terms of electricity for the month, and this would improve their level of trust. With this, the customers are satisfied and when they are, I am also satisfied.”
It is worthy of note that MOJEC International, last year, partnered with Sahara Foundation, Energy Training Centre and Ikeja Electric to train several metering personnel through an end-user Metering Capacity Building programme in Lagos.
The partnership was part of efforts to improve and reinforce competence while driving upskilling among technicians in the Nigerian electricity supply industry.
According to MOJEC, supporting metering technicians with skills needed to drive efficient metering is consequential to enhancing sector performance.
It said this would lead to an increase in revenue collection, which in turn would bolster overall transmission and distribution capacity in addition to significant capital expenditure improvements in the industry.