There were initially two ways through which customers are billed for electricity–postpaid meter billing and estimated billing–in Nigeria. Following complaints by citizens, the prepaid meter billing system was introduced to the system to aid revenue collection, while also putting an end to the post-paid meter reading billing system and to end estimated billing, which is believed to have many irregularities. The journey since 2006 has been one with challenges for both the customer and the operator.

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Key Players

AGENCIES: Agencies are cumulatively tasked with the responsibility of regulating, standardizing, growing, expanding and stabilizing the power sector as stipulated by the policies establishing them, their functions are distinct, however in some cases, these functions overlap.

GENCOS: Generating companies generate electricity in Nigeria, popularly referred to as Gencos, there are 23 generating companies managing the grid-connected power plants. In Nigeria today, the primary sources of electricity generation are gas, thermal and hydroelectric.

DISCOS: There are 11 Distribution Companies generally referred to as Discos, that distribute electricity to homes and industries in all 36 states in Nigeria. They came into being following the Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 which called for the unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, and paving the way to privatization.

Policy Background

In 2018, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), issued the Meters Asset Provider Regulations under the Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 (EPSRA) to deregulate the supply of prepaid meters to consumers by electricity Discos. Discos are to outsource the acquisition, installation of prepaid meters to third-party organizations.

The MAP policy's aim is to ensure that customers are paying for the energy consumed and not what is estimated by the distribution companies. Although the policy promises a solution, it is yet to be implemented.

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Key Question:

What exactly is delaying the metering process and why?

The metering process across the country, needless to say, is not moving quickly enough to catch up with customer needs. There are salient questions that beg answering with regards to the metering process and why it appears to be moving at snail's pace with less than 50% of the customers being metered between 2017 and 2018.

Key Question:

Who has easy access to meters, who doesn’t, and why?

Smack in the middle of the wrangle between customers and DisCo’s concerning estimated billing, meter bypass and what not, there is a nagging question none has managed to properly address–is there a disparity between urban dwellers and sub-urban dwellers’ access to meters as suggested by citizens?

Key Question:

What is the economic impact of delayed metering members of society?

No economic sector can independently thrive without constant and regular access to electricity. Citizens have expressed the need for meters in order to cut down on the bloated estimates they deal with when faced with having to pay an “estimated bill.” For Small and Medium Enterprises however, what is the direct economic impact of not being able to access meters and how far do the ripple effects go?

Key Question:

What intermediary targets should government agencies put in place to ensure that they are on track to meeting the 2030 goal?

Looking at the data emanating from the NERC between 2017 and 2018, there were 252,493 additional customers metered across the country, within the same period, the national outstanding non metered customers rose from 3,992,280 to 5,223,856 meaning an increase of 1,231,576 non-metered customers. The numbers clearly show that there needs to be targeted measures put in place to meet up with growing demands, but who is thinking about this, what are the regulatory agencies doing to ensure the industry does not collapse under the weight of customers needs?

Key Question:

How has privatization enabled progress towards addressing the metering gap or not?

No need to go into unnecessary debates about the what-if’s of privatization it is rather beholden upon the Nigerian government to take stock of the privatization journey so far. What were the initial objectives, how much has been invested, what are the current benefits or otherwise and how does the Nigerian state take these learnings and convert them to actionable steps for future decisions with regards to the power sector and the 2030 goals?

Key Question:

Who are the key enablers of the metering process/system and who needs to be held to account?

The question speaks for itself, if a fully metered customer base is beneficial to all, then there will be obvious efforts at ensuring that happens, however, if in business terms a 100% metered system would be counter intuitive, then there will be obvious blockers. With about $500 million earmarked by the PSRP for metering initiatives, the question of enablers is ever pertinent to ensure to guarantee the survival of sector