The power distribution companies in the country have called on the Federal Government to provide N400bn through commercial banks towards bridging the huge metering gap in the Nigerian electricity supply industry.

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The Discos said the implementation of the Meter Asset Provider scheme had met significant challenges including lack of financing and increased import duty on meters.

They noted that to facilitate the mass metering, the Federal Government, through its various development partners, should provide funds that customers could access for metering under the MAP scheme.

According to the power firms, the funds should be long-term single-digit interest loans.

On March 8, 2018, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission approved the MAP Regulation, aimed at fast-tracking the closure of the metering gap in the sector through the engagement of third-party investors for the financing, procurement, supply, installation and maintenance of electricity meters.

The commission, which set a target of three years for the provision of meters to all customers, directed the Discos and the meter asset providers to commence the rollout of meters not later than May 1, 2019.

The Discos stated that plugging the metering gap of over 6.5 million meters had been slow because NERC designed the MAP regulations with inappropriate meter pricing.

“The government should provide N400bn for comprehensive metering MAP vendors/customers through the commercial banks with an 18-month metering completion period and a 10-year repayment term,” they said.

They said the lack of access to long-term single-digit interest funding and an increase in import duty shortly after meter prices were capped by NERC resulted in a 35 per cent increase on fully assembled meters.

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The power distributors said an appropriate and commercial price on meters should be put in place by NERC to ensure mass metering.

They said, “Discos should have a surcharge for those who don’t or can’t pay for meters upfront in their own inventory of meters.

“Waivers to be granted to cover meters and meter prices [should] be fully commercialised. Waivers on increase in duty to continue for at least two years.”

The Discos said their approved capital expenditures had never been adequate for comprehensive metering.

They added that the capping of estimated billing by the regulator had reduced the incentives for consumers to obtain meters.

NERC had in late February announced that it had capped the estimated bills that could be issued by the Discos to unmetered customers.