The Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc has revealed that power distribution companies in the country failed to pay a total of N416.94bn for the electricity sold to them from January to September this year.

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The government-owned NBET buys electricity in bulk from generation companies through Power Purchase Agreements and sells through vesting contracts to the Discos, which then supply it to the consumers.

The bulk trader noted that some of the Discos had yet to meet up with the minimum remittance approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission.

The 11 Discos were given a total invoice of N538.25bn for the energy received in the nine-month period but only paid N121.31bn to NBET, according to NBET data.

The power distributors received a total invoice of N52.13bn in January; N52.01bn in February; N52.62bn in March; N68.08bn in April; N68.09bn in May; and N56.27bn in June.

The Discos received a total invoice of N66.33bn in July; N563.62bn in August; and N59.10bn in September.

But they paid N14.96bn in January; N13.18bn in February; N6.07bn in March; N10.67bn in April; N12.84bn in May; and N12.91bn in June.

The Discos paid NBET N12.91bn in July; N14.89bn in August, and N22.88bn in September.

Kaduna Electric, which covers Kaduna, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara states, did not make any remittance from March to May.

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Kano, which covers Kano, Katsina and Jigawa, failed to pay NBET in four months, namely March, April, May and August.

NERC, in its latest quarterly report, said the financial viability and commercial performance of the Nigerian electricity supply industry continued to be a major challenge.

It said the level of collection efficiency during the first quarter of 2020 indicated that as much as N3.88 out of every N10 worth of energy sold remained uncollected from consumers.

The regulator noted that the financial viability of the industry had remained a major challenge, threatening its sustainability.

According to NERC, the liquidity challenge is partly due to the non-implementation of cost-reflective tariffs, high technical and commercial losses exacerbated by energy theft, and consumers’ apathy to payments under the widely prevailing practice of estimated billing.

It noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant macroeconomic impact of the policies aimed at curtailing its spread in the country had added to the challenge of low remittance to the market.

“The severity of the liquidity challenge in NESI was reflected in the settlement rates of the service charges and energy invoices issued by Market Operator and NBET respectively to each of the Discos, as well as the non-payment by the special and international customers for the services rendered by MO,” it said.