By Obas Esiedesa
The Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) has disclosed that about N299 billion is required to close the 4.1 million metering gap in the country.
ANED said electricity distribution companies DisCos are also seeking more capital expenditure (CAPEX) window and legislative actions for mobile courts to swiftly tackle energy theft and meter bypassing.
The Association stated this during a public hearing on the Bill to Criminalise Estimated Billing at the National Assembly on Tuesday.
A statement issued by the Director of Advocacy and Research, Barrister Sunday Oduntan in Abuja said the DisCos were making huge investments in providing meters for their customers and cutting down those on estimation.
Oduntan noted that estimated billing methodology was standard practice in over 150 countries globally including USA, Turkey, Germany, Brazil, Chile, China, India, Indonesia among others with over 26 African countries including Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Cameroon also maintain this global standard.
He pointed out that while the CAPEX allowed for all the 11 DisCos is N305 billion for five years to provide meters, maintain their networks and perform other obligations, the 4.1m metering gap stands at N299 billion amounting to 98 per cent of the allowed CAPEX.
ANED also noted that any new legislation would need to consider the historical challenges of the DisCos which include non-cost reflective nature of the electricity tariff which has created a significant market shortfall of over N800bn; a nascent private-led power sector worsened by macro-economic factors that is affecting the DisCos’ operations and performance.
The DisCos said the market shortfalls further impede their ability to access the financing necessary for OPEX, CAPEX and loss reduction initiatives.
While advocating for legislative action against energy theft and meter bypass, ANED said metering alone contributes to an estimated 30 per cent reduction of their Collection Losses adding that the DisCos lose about 40 per cent monthly to energy theft.
It said: “Adequate CAPEX & OPEX provisions should be made under the electricity tariff, to ensure comprehensive metering, and legislative effort should be applied to criminalising energy theft and meter bypass, and creating electricity special/mobile courts. This would assist in catalysing the desired large scale metering within the sector.”