Nigeria imports prepaid meters despite local content wrangle


Ikeja pre-paid-metersIn West Africa, Nigeria’s prepaid meter manufacturers continue to rally against foreign imports leaving the investment opportunities for global players unclear and mired in local politics.

In a report at the weekend Muideen Ibrahim, the executive secretary of the Electricity Meters Manufacturers Association Of Nigeria (EMMAN), alleged that one of Nigeria’s privatised energy providers – Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company – is planning to take delivery of meters from an overseas company in December 2015, reports The Guardian.

Mr Ibrahim said his members have more than US$53 million (Naira 9.5 billion) worth of locally-manufactured prepaid meters “wasting” in warehouses across the country because electricity distribution companies prefer “imported meters”, according to the report.

Asserting that locally made units would satisfy the metering gap, estimated at 50%, Ibrahim accused the discos of taking money out of the country by ordering from global manufacturers.

He said: “The distribution companies went to foreign countries to place orders for meters, which is purely a case of capital flight, as they encourage the growth of foreign companies at the expense of local ones.

“This will, no doubt, affect Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and even the economy in the long run. This action is definitely not in tandem with the Transformation Agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan, especially with respect to his recently launched policy on industrialisation.”

Imminent prepaid meter rollout

A spokesperson for Ikeja declined to comment on the management’s decision not to order from local manufacturers but said: “What is more important is to ensure that the meters we are going to give are credible meters.

“It is better to wait a bit and get something good than to rush into it and rush out. In a couple of weeks, we will roll it meters.”

Mr Adeyanju said the company would roll out 500,000 meters in the next three years.

Protecting local content

The news comes despite regulator Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) preparing a suppliers’ list last month of 138 companies approved for meter manufacturing, importing, supplying and installing.

It is unclear how many are foreign companies apart from the Nigerian subsidiary of Egyptian meter manufacturer Elsewedy Electric.

Local competition

Another distributor – Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) – is using the approved supplier list but has been accused of ignoring it suggesting bad feeling between competing manufacturers.

Jonah Iboma, manager, corporate communications, said: “It is out of these companies that we have chosen the ones to work with. The shortlisted companies are over 100, so it means that we cannot work with all of them at a time, we have to choose some that we can work with.

“Perhaps, the companies that we are not yet working with are the ones complaining. NERC does not allow any distribution company to import meters rather we work with the companies that are licensed by NERC.”

He added: “It is easy for people to come up with allegations of non patronage. Some people claim that their products can do X, Y and Z; whereas, those products have not been substantiated by NERC standards. Maybe the products of those that are aggrieved do not meet the requisite standards.”