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FG should watch Discos while it doles out N37bn for Meter Asset Providers—Expert

A Lagos based Economist and public policy analyst, Mr. Sam Olisa has called on Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola to be wary of power Distribution Companies (Discos), saying due to the much money they milk from Nigerians using estimated billing, they are out to do anything possible to truncate the works of Meter Asset Providers (MAPs).

He noted that “With the readiness of the government to release the fund to the licensed 85 firms under MAPs, Discos will now seat up in deepening their own efforts in metering consumers”.

He revealed that efforts should be made to ensure that the N37bn is recovered from MAPs within the 15 years of their licence lifespan to avoid cases of nonperforming loans.

It would be recalled that since the government observed that Discos are reluctant in delivering prepaid meters to customers, it worked out the setting up of MAPs through the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

According to the modus operandi of MAPs as provided in the new regulation, they will see to the acquisition, installation and maintenance of prepaid meters for customers on behalf of Discos.

It was in continued efforts of the government to make sure that households and corporate organizations are adequately metered that MAPs were created in the value chain of power sales.

Accordingly, government has agreed to provide about N37bn for the supply of meters through MAPs.

Fashola, who addressed stakeholders at the 28th monthly meeting of operators in the sector, observed that from service issue of electricity supply, there was the bigger and compelling issue of estimated billing and lack of meters.

He said “Meter supply has become the big issue of the moment that consumers want us to resolve. As a government, we hear them loudly and clearly, and as service providers, we hope that you can hear them too.

“As power supply continues to increase in generation, transmission and distribution, the demand for meters will increase, because more power supply and consumption will likely result in increased bills.”

Continuing, he observed that “Estimated billings in these circumstances will become a major cause of distrust and conflict between consumers and distribution companies, and meters are the easiest way to build the bridge of trust.

“On the executive side of government, we are responding by taking advantage of the Meter Asset Provider Regulations to deploy a fund of N37bn towards supplying meters through the private sector.”

He therefore urged all the Discos that had yet to take advantage of the opportunity to quickly do so, or make their own funding arrangements and contract their meter providers to supply and install meters.

However, the Minister failed to give any timeline for the metering of Nigerian consumers to Discos.