THREE years after the privatisation of the power sector, not less than 2.9 million customers are still without electricity meters, the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, ANED, Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Sunday Oduntan said.
This came as electricity meter manufacturers fear they may close shop due to scarcity of foreign exchange, Forex.
Oduntan told Vanguard that out of the 6.2 million registered customers, only 3.3 million have meters. He, however, said enumeration is still on-going to capture more customers and have better industry statistics.
Meter manufacturers who import some of the needed machinery have been lamenting their inability to access Forex to meet their needs.
Managing Director of Mojec International Limited, a Lagos – based meter manufacturing company, Chantelle Abdul, said Forex scarcity is the biggest challenge facing meter manufacturers in the country.
“One of our critical issues at the moment is the lack of access to foreign exchange. A lot of our manufacturing inputs rely on inputs from abroad. My goal as a manufacturer is to produce as much of my manufacturing input here in Nigeria,” she said.
She explained that some of the components being imported include chips, PCD, which is the brain of the meter, batteries, relays and capacitors.
She stated: “There is nothing that stops us from producing the batteries, relays and capacitors that we need. It is sad to say that we don’t even have factories that produce those things here in Nigeria.
“Forex is posing to be our biggest problem as it continued to hamper the ability of meter manufacturers to import those components.
While explaining that financing still remains a big challenge, Abdul said, “We cannot be borrowing at double-digit rate. It will automatically increase the price of the meter.
“Already, Nigerians are struggling to buy the meters, even the electricity distribution companies themselves. So, imagine doubling the price of the meter that already costs between N40,000 and N65,000; it means that we will not be able to bridge the metering gap that already exists in the country.”
For the Executive Secretary, Electricity Meter Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Muyideen Ibrahim, the situation is frustrating. “The challenges are really biting harder. We can’t produce as and when due. Forex is not readily available because manufacturers can’t be going to the black market to buy at almost N400 to a dollar.
“As we speak, over N50 billion worth of investment from all of the manufacturers is just wasting away, as it were,” he said.
Ibrahim also said that apart from Forex challenge, poor power supply has been a major problem facing the manufacturers, who, according to him, rely almost completely on generators.
“You can imagine the impact of that on the manufacturers’ cost of production. This is making them unable to compete favourably with their foreign counterparts, especially those from China.
“The difference between China and Nigeria is that the Chinese government supports its manufacturers, because they have a good policy framework that is actually working. That is why some of the Chinese companies are saying, ‘We will give some of the Discos meters with a one year moratorium before we start collecting money.’ No Nigerian meter manufacturer can do that,” he explained.
According to Ibrahim, “We have five manufacturers registered with us, and each of them can produce at least 5,000 meters in a month. But now, there are no orders because some of the Discos are not patronising them. So, low patronage is another critical factor affecting the manufacturers.
“In fact, some of them have downsized because they are not producing optimally; their ability to service their loans is being threatened. When you are not producing to capacity, you will fold up eventually if there is no patronage.”
Source: Nigeria Today