By MICHAEL ONUORAH
Michael Onuorah is Head, MAP & Supply Chain, MOJEC International
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WITH A POPULATION of over 200 million people, Nigeria is undoubtedly one of the most populous countries in the world, accounting for half of the population of West Africa. While the country has the largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa, with agriculture being the largest contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), access to electricity is faced with a myriad of challenges, including infrastructure constraints, insufficient enduser tariffs, unstable supply, among others. In a bid to tackle these challenges and promote efficiency in the area of operations
in the power industry, the Nigerian government unbundled the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) in 2013 and privatized the generation and distribution segments of the sector. With the privatization, 11 distribution
companies (DisCos) and 6 generation companies (GenCos) were birthed, while the transmission of electricity remained under the control of the Federal Government.
While the privatization initially held promises, efficiency in the power sector is still being hamstrung by pertinent issues to date, such as unreliable gas supply, vandalism and insufficient metering.According to a report by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the population of electricity customers stands at 7.48 million, of which only 3.39million are metered, leaving the unmetered population at 4.09 million customers. One of the biggest scourges of Nigeria’s electricity deficit is the estimated billing of unmetered customers, wherein consumers are charged for energy consumed based on their previous usage, without considering the actual quantity of energy
consumed. Consumers in this system are bedeviled with mandatory payments far above their monthly energy
consumption, which has often led to disputes between customers and DisCos personnel. In a bid to assuage the
agitation by electricity customers to be metered so as to enable them pay for actual power consumed, the Federal
Government introduced the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) Regulation in 2018, which provides for the supply, installation, and maintenance of end-meter users by other parties approved by the commission.
The initiative was geared towards accelerating the closure of the existing meter gap, which has stymied the development and progress of meter services in the industry. More recently, in a renewed attempt to bridge the metering gap, curtail the prevalence of estimated billing and attract private investment in the provision of
meters and metering services in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), the Federal Government introduced the National Mass Metering Policy (NMMP) in 2020, which will be executed in two phases, including
phases 0 and 1. Phase 0, which commenced last year involves the financing of orders under the MAP programme
by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), with a target of one million meters across the country while Phase 1
will provide up to 4 million meters and shall also use a similar financing mechanism as Phase 0. Following the
operational modalities of the CBN’s financing support to the electricity distribution companies and local meter
manufacturers in Nigeria, all unmetered customers are expected to be metered by end of 2023under the NMMP/
MAP schemes, ultimately eliminating the meter gap.