The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is working to ensure that firms, which applied to serve as meter asset providers under the new metering arrangements, begin operation soon, its officer in charge of Meter Asset Providers (MAPs), Mr Shittu Shuaibu, has said.
In an interview with The Nation on phone, he said the Commission is not leaving any stone unturned to ensure the success of the new metering scheme, which culminated in the introduction of the meter asset providers, as a third-party in the distribution and supply of electricity meters to the customers.
Shuaibu said: “Meter asset providers are likely to start operation very soon as the regulator is working hard to ensure they are licensed to carry out the responsibilities of metering the unmetered customers in the country.”
Meanwhile, stakeholders are upbeat on the future of the scheme, adding that the flagging off of the new metering scheme and subsequently meter asset providers, marked a new dawn in the sector, which has for long been grappling with problems such as acute shortage of meters, estimated billings and huge arrears of unpaid bills, ostensibly owed by electricity consumers.
Momas Electricity Meter Manufacturing Company Limited (MEMMCOL) Chief Executive officer, Mr Kola Balogun, said meter asset providers may be licensed by NERC to start operation before the end of the first quarter of 2019.
According to him, firms that wish to play as meter asset providers in the sector have applied to NERC, granted ‘No Objection’ status by the Commission, had their performance reviewed in the market, made to seek the power distribution companies (DisCos) they would partner, while also awaiting final approval from NERC.
“Between this February and March ending, something concrete as regards the commencement of the activities of meter asset providers would happen. I’m sure that the firms that are seeking to start operation as MAPs would start work, either by end of February or March 2019,” he added.
According to him, the new metering plans would provide opportunities for operators to play better by acquiring and building bigger markets for themselves, stressing that direct and indirect jobs will be created, more meters would be made, which would culminate in appreciable reduction in metering gap in the country.
On funding, Balogun said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is planning to provide interventions for operators in the nation’s metering sub-sector by assisting them to get facility at more beneficial rates.
The CBN, he said, is looking for a platform through which it would intervene in the activities of the meter asset providers as NERC gives them operating licences soon.
Electricity Meter Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (EMMAN) Executive Secretary, Mr. Muhideen Ibrahim, said his members are keying into the new metering programme introduced by the Federal Government in the wake of the rising scarcity of meters in the sector. EMMAN is an umbrella body for meter producers in Nigeria.
He said meter manufacturers are working to complement the efforts of the Federal Government,by participating fully in the new metering initiatives. This, Muhideen said, is evident by the new technologies acquired by producers of meters in order to be able to mass-produce meter and further help in reducing the 4.7million metering gap in the country.
He said, beyond this, manufacturers are providing logistics as well as building capacity in order to strengthen the operation of the sub-sector. He said operators are preparing highly skilled technicians and engineers to work when the meter asset providers commence operation soon.
He said the building of a training school by MEMMCOL and the subsequent inuaguration by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in 2018, was an indication that operators, especially metering companies, are ready to make the government programme work.
He said Unistar High-Tech Limited is another indigenous metering firm, which has keyed into the government’s policy of providing meters to customers through meter asset providers.
Source: The Nation