Aba Power’s N14bn mass metering programme targets 200,000 customers
May 15, 2023162 views0 comments
By Ben Eguzozie
- Nine LGAs out of 17 serviced by power firm
Aba Power, Nigeria’s 12th and newest electricity distribution company (DisCo), has started its own mass metering operation at the cost of N14 billion to the company, to provide prepaid metres to 200,000 customers. The scheme is devoid of any prepayment conditions, the company said.
The independent power firm operated by Geometric Power Ltd, only keyed into the federal government’s Meter Asset Programme (MAP) less than five months ago.
Under the federal government MAP, DisCos are to provide prepaid metres to their customers nationwide.
Aba Power launched its own metering campaign to accelerate the process of making prepaid metres available to all electricity users connected to its Aba Ringfence, which comprises nine out of the 17 local government areas in Abia State.
Known as the Aba Power Mass Metre Programme (APMMP), the campaign will provide metres to electricity users without prepayment.
Patrick Umeh, managing director, Aba Power, who served as a commissioner with the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), said Aba Power decided on the mass metering scheme, described as revolutionary step, because metre penetration in the nine LGAs, which the power company services, is very poor.
Industry players believe that greater metre penetration will engender customer confidence which will, in turn, make electricity users pay monthly bills promptly, as the estimated billing system widely used in the country is considered opaque and frequently fraudulent.
Umeh said chairman, Barth Nnaji, a former minister of power, has directed the company to do everything within its power to alleviate the sufferings of electricity users by giving them prepaid metres, irrespective of the cost implications to it.
“It is a cost we are willing to bear as a socially responsible corporate organisation. More importantly, Professor Nnaji directed us to promote transparency and accountability in our services which prepaid metres support. Customers want to know what they are paying for, and this is a fair demand,” Umeh, AP managing director said.
He said the APMMP, which kicks off in a few days, will begin with customers on the Township 11KV feeder which covers Asa Road, St Michael’s Road, George’s Road, Pound Road, Park Road and Azikiwe Road. This feeder has more available power than most feeders in the Aba Ringfence; and will benefit many more persons and organisations.
The Aba Power MD said that the metering programme will be run in phases because of the huge cost. “It will cost N14 billion to provide 200,000 customers with metres,” noted Anthony Alozie, chief financial officer, Geometric Power, who until recently was a top executive with Halliburton, a leading American oil and gas services multinational.
A customer who wants to acquire a single-phase metre through MAP will pay about N63,000 in advance and about N118,000 to procure a three-phase metre, though the customer will be refunded through power credit within 36 months. Aba Power allows payment by instalments.
One major difference between getting a metre under MAP and obtaining it through the Aba Power Mass Metering Programme is that, the former enables a customer to get it within 10 days after payment, whereas the time frame for securing a metre through the latter arrangement is not known.
“The prepaid metres under our new arrangement are given out in phases, that is, from feeder to feeder,” stated Umeh, explaining that Aba Power is running both arrangements simultaneously because of the advantages inherent in each.
Phillip Ugwu, an engineer and former chief executive of the Olorunsogo Power Plant in Ogun State, said Aba Power, an electricity distribution company which commenced effective operations late 2022, is setting standards for the DisCos.
“The two-pronged approach to mass metering will rekindle confidence in the electricity sector,” the power company said.