With over 50 percent of electricity consumers in the country without meters, utility revenue expert, Rene Bindeman, has stressed that distribution companies need to find a way of providing meters for their customers.
Bindeman, who described meters as the cash machines of utility companies, said the lack of meters in Nigeria electricity market, is acutely affecting revenues in the market.
The technical adviser to South African Revenue Protection Association (SARPA), spoke at a workshop on data management and revenue recovery, organized by Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), adding that DISCOs must install and protect their meters, because it is the only way they could boost their revenue.
Explaining that meters are expensive to procure and installed, he called for the manufacturing of meter in-country as that would make it cheaper for the discos; adding: “If you do not have the money, there is no way you can meter customers because what will happen is that you need to be able to have meters in the field but meters cost a lot of money.
“The distribution companies need to find a way getting the money to meter the customers. The best thing is to have meters because that is best way to accurate measure consumers.
“Every customer uses different level of electricity and the best thing to do is to have a meter. However the DISCOs in Nigeria do not have the money to provide all the meters at the same time.”
He explained further that in “South Africa, we took it in different stages, we said let look at the ones that need meters now, and we gave them meters immediately and we found new ways of getting the meters.
“In Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) has an agreement with the banks where the banks actually make a loan. What they do is the customer goes to the bank, then the bank gives him a loan for the cost of the meter, he then pays off and the meter gets installed in his house.
“The challenge for all the distributors is to find ways of how they can source these meters and how we can put them. A good idea is start making meters here in Nigeria so that they can get it much cheaper.
“The meters are being brought from overseas and that makes them more expensive. There is need to set up manufacturing plants here to make the meters here and from then on, we can drive it.”
Bindeman however observed that in the “mean time, we need to work out how to make the estimates as accurate as possible, how to make sure that customers are not over billed and ensure that everybody gets to pay for what he or she consumes.