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Heaps of prepaid meter applications rot at Discos—Report

A new report released by Business Hilights Intelligence Unit (BHIU) on Sunday, 22 March 2020, has shown that contrary to the claims of Nigerian Electricity Distribution Companies (Discos) and Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors’ (ANED) that they have been fastening metering process; officially structured delays have been frustrating the process at Discos.

BHIU is an independent business research unit of Media Hilights Group specialising in carrying out strategic market research and feasibility studies (at a fee) for both local and international bodies.

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The report said “Apart from the access to the initial form printout from the system which in many cases is free, all other associated processes including making payment at designated banks come with different hiccups’.

“Though it is not yet clear if those hiccups were officially infused to frustrate applying customers, the claims that meters are installed after 12 working days hardly work for many applicants across all the Discos in Nigeria.

Recall that there had been back and forth policy announcements on increase in electricity tariff effective next month, but the move is unfortunately coming when well over 59.7% of electricity customers are still on estimated billing and yet to be metered.

Otherwise, at the backdrop of a new and higher electricity tariff commencing next month across the country, about 5.8 million of electricity consumers are yet to be captured under the pre-paid meter scheme.

This figure represents 59.7 percent of the total registered electricity consumers in the country. This came as the remittance from the Distribution Companies, DISCOs, still remain low at 58.81billion out of 179.66billion issued by the regulator. This was contained in the 2019 third-quarter report released by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). According to the report, only Abuja and Benin DISCCOs had metered more than 50 percent of their registered electricity customers as at the end of September 2019.

“The metering gap for end-use customers is still a key challenge in the industry. The records of the commission indicate that, of the 9,674,729 registered electricity customers, only 3,895,497 (40.26 percent) have been metered as at the end of the third quarter of 2019,” the commission said.

“Thus, 59.74 percent of the registered electricity customers are still on estimated billing which has contributed to customer apathy towards payment for electricity. In comparison to the second quarter, the numbers of registered and metered customers increased by 8.93 percent and 1.65 percent respectively.