Electricity consumers in the country should not expect a rapid improvement in power supply any time soon despite the privatisation of the sector, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has said.
The commission made it clear that the distribution of meters to consumers as well as the improvement of technical issues in the power business would not be achieved in the short term.
The Chairman, NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, said private investors in the sector would need time to settle down, understand the details of the business and strategise better to service their debts.
According to him, the investors will also need time to work out how to efficiently manage the electricity networks and installations to benefit their customers.
He said, “These issues, of course, cannot be achieved rapidly. So, in the first few months, there will not be so much significant or rapid improvement, and electricity consumers should not expect magic.
“That the Federal Government sold these companies to private investors does not mean that the problems with the power sector will be over overnight.”
Amadi spoke at a workshop organised by the commission to discuss issues pertaining to yearly increase of electricity tariff and the privatisation of the power sector.
The privatisation of the power industry took a step closer to completion last Monday with the handing over of share certificates to 13 investors, who had earlier paid for the 14 electricity generation and distribution companies.
President Goodluck Jonathan had stated that with the scheduled handover of the electricity companies to the private sector operators, things could only get better.
“Going forward, this administration is committed to providing all elements that are necessary for our private sector partners to succeed in providing Nigerians with uninterrupted power supply,” the President had said.
But Amadi told journalists that uninterrupted power supply would not just happen, stressing that the new owners would need to get enough money not only to repay their debts, but to run the companies efficiently.
“This, however, does not mean that there won’t be speedy improvements in some aspects of the business. Customer care can be improved upon in the short term, but improvements in technical issues will be in the long term,” he said.
The NERC boss, however, gave an assurance that the commission would keep the new owners of the electricity firms committed to their respective targets, adding that it would not hesitate to penalise defaulters.
On fears that the Disco Roundtable, an umbrella body for the power distribution companies, would form a cartel that would dictate electricity tariff, Amadi said the Federal Government would dissolve the body once the handover was completed.
“We have made them understand that once they take over the business, we will deal with them individually and not as a group,” he said.
On why metering of electricity consumers was still a huge problem, the NERC chairman said, “The corruption and racketing in metering is inhibiting the process. However, the Discos will meter their customers, but this will take some time for it to go round.”
Information from Punch was used in this report.