Some stakeholders in the power sector have urged the Federal Government to consider putting in place a special development bank for the ongoing Meter Assets Providers (MAPs) scheme, to fast track massive metering across the country.
The stakeholders said such a move would enable meter manufacturers meet up in MAPs scheme implementation, since the project was long term.
The experts spoke against the backdrop of slow pace of metering customers by distribution companies since inception of MAPs in May.
Mr Muideen Ibrahim, the Executive Secretary, Electricity Meters Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (EMMAN), said if government initiated an intervention through a Development Bank, such a bank would be able to give MAPs funds at very low single digit interest rate.
Ibrahim said this would ensure the success of the scheme in the immediate and in the long run.
He urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to also come out with a clear cut policy for the players in the scheme.
The executive secretary said funding of the projects by MAPs had remained a serious challenge, as it was a huge project and some of the players had limited funds.
Ibrahim, however, said the scheme should be encouraged to thrive by all the stakeholders, and the government had a significant role to play for its success.
According to him, the MAPs should not be left on their own since it is a national project.
He said that if the metering challenge could be finally solved through the scheme, the glory would go to the government.
“It behoves on the regulatory agency and the government to critically look into the funding challenge and ensure that all the bottlenecks are removed, so that the scheme can work and go on seamlessly.
“You will recall that providing meters for all Nigerians would be a joy to all and it will finally put an end to the issue of estimated billings which is having adverse effects on average Nigerians.
“Some of the Discos have turned themselves into gods due to the issue of the estimated billings. Unfortunately, they disconnect their customers’ electricity from the pole,’’ he said.
Ibrahim said MAPs came into force in order to close the metering gap, hence the government and the regulatory agency should do the needful and ensure the success of the scheme ,since all Nigerians were desirous of having meters.
“Hence, the players should be encouraged to function and perform effectively. The success of MAP will encourage local content and in the long run provide jobs to the teeming unemployed Nigerians.
“Not only that, it can encourage huge foreign direct investment if well harnessed, hence there is need to review the scheme in order to enable the players to achieve their set goals and objectives.
“We always have good policies in Nigeria but the major challenge is implementation. The government should do the needful with respect to this scheme so that it will not fail like a pack of cards and as other policies failed in the past,’’ he said.
Mr Abiodun Ogunleye, Managing Director, Powercap Ltd. urged the MAPs to also factor credit facilities process to customers that can pay over time, to drive effective metering.
He said that the MAPs had started in some distribution companies but in low pace.
Ogunleye said that if MAPs could provide some form of credit facilities to customers and take balance over time, that would go a long way to also fast track installations.
He appealed to distribution companies to also endeavour to write off some of the outrageous and estimated bills that some customers could not meet.
The Coordinator, Coalition for Affordable and Regular Electricity (CARE), Mr Chinedu Bosah, urged NERC to review the price of meters — N38,000 and N70,000 for one phase and three phase meters respectively.
He said such prices were not affordable for the vast majority of Nigerians who were already in “excruciating” poverty.
Bosah said the amounts were beyond the N30,000 minimum wage for a product that was supposed to be a tool of measurement of service.
He said that CARE had always held the position that the DISCOS were under the obligation to provide functional prepaid meters for free.
Bosah said that NERC was only backing the DISCOS by transferring their responsibility unto the consumers, which was clear exploitation.
According to him, the failure of MAPs is not only because of funding or government bureaucracy but because only a few can afford the exploitative charge.
“CARE continues to demand that the DISCOS should provide for prepaid meters to all consumers free of charge as the only way out, more so when the provision of meter and servicing have been embedded in the tariff.
“Forcing consumers to pay for prepaid meters is like expecting fuel and diesel buyers to pay for fuel pumping machine and its servicing,” he said.