Chinedu Nebo announces 1m free prepaid meters

Nigeria’s federal government announced last week a line of soft term credit to help bridge the metering gap in the West African country.

Minister of Power Chinedu Nebo said in Abuja that an initial N33 billion (USD203 million) soft term credit line is available for electricity distribution companies to buy and install meters.

Mr Nebo said: “For the power sector to progressively grow in the direction in which government intends it to be, this metering gap must be bridged immediately. Indeed, adequate metering gap could play a multiplier role by shoring up the market revenues of the distribution companies themselves and also ensuring greater equity and accuracy in the billing of consumers.”

Commenting on the need to expand the national grid, Nebo said: “We will continue to expand our national transmission grid to all parts of the country through additional resources leveraged from development financial institutions such as Africa Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, World Bank Group, Japan International corporation Agency, among others.

The minister added: “A total of  N752 billion ($4.7 billion) is already being earmarked for transmission expansion in the next five years. In addition to this, it is also intended that more innovative approaches will be adopted to fund the Transmission Company of Nigeria through opening possible private sector investment windows at the nearest time possible.”

Metering fund vanishes

The news follows the revelation in June 2014 by Nigeria’s energy watchdog Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) that N2.9 billion (US$17m) of Federal funds earmarked for a national metering scheme were unaccounted for in a “crime against consumers”, according to NERC Chairman Dr Sam Amadi.

Dr Amadi confirmed that the metering intervention fund, created in 2011, had not achieved it aims of helping to subsidise metering rollouts to the millions of customers without units due to mismanagement by the new electricity distribution companies (discos) created by the privatisation of Nigeria’s power sector.

Amadi said: “The money was given to the discos before NERC came on board. We told them (the discos) to submit a report on how the money was spent, and only half of the discos have. For those that submitted, their books were not convincing, so we disallowed them.”

NERC announced plans to prosecute “those who got the money” but given that some discos are reporting a crisis in funding, this might be ambitious.

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