OUT of about 7, 476, 886 electricity customers in the country, only 3.45 million have been metered while 4, 025. 611 are still unmetered, The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on Wednesday said.
This is even as it proposed introduction of a “Modified CAPMI”, to fast track metering process.
The Commission stated this at the final day of stakeholders consultation it held in Abuja for the Northcentral zone on MYTO methodology, Business Continuity, and Eligible Customer Declaration.
Credited Advance Payment for. metering Implementation (CAPMI) is a willing-customer financing scheme initiated by NERC in 2013 which allows electricity consumers who are yet to be metered by the electricity distribution companies (DisCos) to finance the procurement of their meter and be repaid over time through deductions from their monthly bills as against the provision of the law which gave the monopoly of procuring, installing and managing meters to the DisCos.
However, some bottlenecks identified with the scheme forced the NERC to abolish it when it issued a deadline of 1st November, 2016 for the 11DisCos to discontinue the practice.
Part of the proposal which generated a long heated debate on the floor was the recognition of middlemen to be known as Meter Service Providers (MSPs) who would provide and monitor the procurement, installation and management of meters, thus taking the responsibility off the shoulders of the DisCos.
Explaining the rationale behind the proposal, NERC said it would quicken the metering step thus closing the existing gap in no time.
It also said this would eliminate meter bypassing as well as energy theft due to the enhanced vigilance and monitoring by the MSPs while guaranteeing revenue protection for the DisCos and repayment to customers.
Most of the stakeholders spoke in favour of the consumers paying with the guarantee of getting the meter immediately instead of what they claimed have been the practice where many Nigerians were made to pay, though against the rule, and cannot get meter for up to two, three years.
While urging that painstaking enumeration be conducted quickly to know the true number of customers as many believed that the figure given by NERC was too small looking at the size of Nigeria, some speakers argued that the liquidity challenges being faced in the industry is not as a result of low or non-cost reflective tariff but the inability of the revenue collector, the DisCos to collect at least a great percentage of the monies owed from customers.
They however urged that consideration be given to the so many members of the masses who are so poor and cannot afford to pay for meter, especially residents of low brow areas in the regulation.
Stakeholders agreed that NERC ensures that reliable and easy data collection mechanism that would give unambiguous information on how energy is consumed and calculated is embedded in the meter technology.