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Why Discos are not serious in metering consumers with prepaid

Whereas the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has revealed that well over 50% of electricity users in Nigeria are not metered, experts have given clear reason why it has been so and will continue to be so for a long time.

According to the NBS, the number of unmetered customers stood at 5.025 million as at December 2017, representing over 50 per cent of electricity users in the country.

The federal agency, however disclosed that the Distribution Companies (Discos) were only able to meter 3,451,611 customers out of the 7,476,856 meters across the country.

December last, about 273,596 customers were given three phase-prepaid meters while 1,222,960 customers got single-phase prepaid meters.

Some electricity marketing experts who spoke to Business Hilights Intelligence Unit (BHIU), said basically all the Discos prefer estimated billing because it affords them free hand to rip consumers off as there is no counter upon which consumers can stand and argue against ‘Crazy Bills’.

Besides, estimated billing system creates ample rooms for cheating and indiscriminate allocation of amount to be paid by consumers.

One of the experts and retired staff of the defunct National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) who pleaded anonymity said “Discos prefer estimated billing system more than prepaid because they make more money from estimation than prepaid”.

“They know what they can do to meter every consumer in Nigeria in less than two months but it has been lingering because they make more money giving indiscriminate bills. In fact, two reasons can be adduced for the continuation of the mess and wickedness against Nigerians and Nigerian businesses.

“One, Nigerians are not good in tracking their rights, that is, we hardly raise alarm whenever we are pressed to the walls. Then the second reason is that government and the ministry’s body language has given Discos more windows to continue delaying the distribution of prepaid meters by Discos.

“Let me tell you, if the Minister issues a strong notice to sanction any Disco that fails to meter all users in its area within a given time frame, you will be surprised on the speed with which they will give it out and mount them.

According to him, “Power billing system would have been one of the conditions for concessioning the sector in the first instance. Part of the terms and conditions government would have given all Discos would have been to meter before billing. If that was done, we would not be discussing this matter of meters in Nigeria today.

I think government is part of the problem, even though the Ministry can say it is worrying Discos on meter issues.

NBS report identified Benin Disco as having the highest percentage of customer metered with 69.49 per cent recorded.

Benin is closely followed by Eko Disco with 60.73 per cent, and Ikeja Disco with 55.95 per cent respectively. Yola and Enugu discos recorded the least percentage of customers metered with 23 and 27.72 per cent recorded respectively.