A choking debt of about N49.305 billion (about $251 million) owed to 11 electricity distribution companies (DisCos) in Nigeria is one of the impediments against their efficient operations.
According to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the debt is owed by Federal and State Governments’ departments and agencies, including the military and police.
Nigeria’s Guardian newspaper report on Thursday said that N27.635 billion (about $141 million) was accumulated since the handover to private sector firms in November 2013.
It added that the owners of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company alone are owed N7 billion (about $35 million).
According to the report, such a huge debt overhang could frustrate effort by DisCos to provide more meters and upgrade their networks for efficient service delivery.
The report noted that former President Goodluck Jonathan through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation had authorised the then Accountant-General of the Federation to deduct at source their debts from defaulting MDAs, but such deductions were yet to be implemented.
It disclosed that the NERC has written to the National Assembly requesting legislative support to compel Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to prove evidence of debt payment to DisCos during budget defence and oversight activities.
In order to improve the collection of revenue by DisCos, NERC plans to issue regulations that empower them to cut off supply of electricity to customers who are unwilling to pay their bills.