We applaud the plan by the federal government to grant N39 billion loan for the procurement of pre-paid metres to be made available to electricity consumers across the country. Availability of meters will improve power supply considering that power generation has in recent times stabilised at over 6,000 megawatts. It is however hoped that the loan would be judiciously applied to put an end to the perennial shortages of meters as well as the habitual and reckless exploitation electricity consumers are subjected in the country.
Minister in charge of power, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola indicated that the loan was part of a bigger scheme whose ultimate goal would be to revamp the power sector towards achieving stability in power generation and distribution in the country. It is indeed a welcome development that the federal government now appreciates the need to provide pre-paid meters to consumers of electricity. Nevertheless, it is hoped that the gesture of the government will be leveraged upon by operators in the power sector to put an end to the anguish of consumers who are denied access to meters several months and sometimes years after completing the process of application and payment for the supply of pre-paid meters. No doubt, provision of pre-paid meters will end the perpetual conflict between distributors and end-users of electricity over tariff related shortcomings.
There is no doubt that Nigerians will be glad to have access to pre-paid metres as a way of overcoming the pains of ‘crazy’ or estimated billings that have become a dominant feature across the country. If the loan is justifiably deployed to resolve the problem of questionable billings, the government would have finally reassured consumers who are yet to fully appreciate the essence of the privatisation of the power sector.
N39 billion is no mean sum that should have huge multiplier effects on the economy if properly deployed. To this end, government should consider the option of engaging creditable stakeholders who will ensure that pre-paid meters are produced locally. The advantage of local production is that local content of the power sector will be enriched, while indigenous personnel as well as home based entrepreneurs empowered to further grow the economy. Producing prepaid meters locally will lead to the engagement of thousands of labour that will positively turn around the economy whose widening unemployment gaps reached an alarming proportion in December 2016.
Giving the likely ripple effect on the economy, government must leave no stones unturned to ensure success of the ongoing initiative in the power sector. Having taken the bold step towards repositioning the power sector for improved power supply, it has become incumbent on the government to ensure effective monitoring system to enhance enduring transformation in terms of stable power generation, effective power distribution and efficient service delivery to electricity consumers across the country.