Business Hilights
Tracking Nigeria's Headline Business News Online

FG hikes cost of prepaid meters as Benin, Niger owe N32.1bn to Nigeria

Strong indications emerged yesterday that Nigerians yet to get their electricity prepaid meters will pay more for the access effective from this week as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has disclosed that a total of N32.1 billion is the outstanding debt owed the country by Benin and Niger Republic for electricity supply to the two countries in 2019.

This is coming on the heels of the fact that the Commission has hiked the cost of the commodity. The signal came in Abuja on Monday that the commission had increased the price for a three-phase meter from N67,055 to N82,855.19, while the cost of a single-phase meter was raised from N36,991 to N44.896.16. Operators in the sector told our correspondent that the new prices were contained in a memo signed by the NERC Chairman, Prof. James Momoh, pegging the new price pursuant to section 19 (d) of the Meter Asset Providers regulation. But the introduction of the MAP model, according to stakeholders, had yet to adequately address the meter demands of customers. Providing reasons for the increase in meter cost, Momoh was said to have explained that the hike in foreign exchange rate by the Central Bank of Nigeria was a contributory factor. He was quoted to have said, “In arriving at the approved unit costs, the commission has considered the recent changes in foreign exchange approved by the CBN and the applicable rate available to importers of meter components or fully assembled meters through investors and exporters’ forex window.”

On the debt owed by Nigerian neighbours to NERC, the report seen by Business Hilights earlier in the week revealed that for the four quarters of 2019 suggested that the countries that get electricity supply from Nigeria on a diplomatic trading framework, actually paid nothing to the country within the period. According to the NERC, all the supply invoices sent to the countries through their national electricity corporations – Societe Nigerienne d’electricite (NIGELEC) and Communaute Electrique du Benin (CEB) by the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) and Market Operator (MO) were yet to be paid for. The power regulator lamented that the debt with other challenges such as low remittances by the country’s 11 distribution companies (Discos), high technical and commercial loss levels, as well as transmission constraints, contributed to the poor showings of the country’s electricity industry in the year covered. In NERC’s first quarter 2019 report, it said that, “during the same period, the invoices issued to Ajaokuta Steel Co. Ltd (designated as special customer) and international customers (i.e., Societe Nigerienne d’electricite – NIGELEC and Communaute Electrique du Benin–CEB) were N0.3 billion and N12.8 billion respectively.