A total of 62.24% of electricity customers are still on estimated billing across the country, a data sourced from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has revealed.
Blueprint had exclusively reported that despite the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) introduced by the federal government to meter all eligible customers, some Nigerians have rejected free meters.
Under the NMMP, which was introduced in the early part of 2020, no fewer than 90,000 had been metered till day.
The earlier report, which quoted a stakeholder in the power sector, who spoke to Blueprint in Abuja recently on the condition of anonymity, said those who rejected the free meters allegedly enjoined the estimated billings because of the heavy electronic appliances they used.
But according to the data from NERC, which was reported by SweetcrudeReports, indicated that out of the 10,733,509 registered energy customers as of 31 December 2020, only 4,053,043 (37.76%) have been metered, leaving a metering gap of 62.24% of customers still on estimated billing.
A further review of the customer population data indicates that only Ibadan and Port Harcourt DisCos recorded progress in the metering rate of their electricity customers as of 31st December 2020, as compared to 30th September 2020.
While Eko and Port Harcourt DisCos have metered more than 50% of its registered customers as of 31 December 2020, the remaining utility companies are yet to get a grasp of their metering targets.
As a result, the number of customer complaints increased by 5.26% during the fourth quarter of 2020. During the fourth quarter of 2020, the eleven DisCos received 230,497 complaints from their customers, indicating 5.26% more complaints than those received in the third quarter of 2020.
A review of customer complaints statistics also indicates that metering, billing, and service interruption are the most significant areas of concerns for customers, accounting for 63.60% or 146,585 of the total complaints in the fourth quarter of 2020.
During the quarter under review, the DisCos were able to install meters for just 157,758 end-use customers. This is noticeably more than the 125,311 meters installed during 2020/Q3.
Specifically, during the quarter under review, 121,609 and 36,149 new meters were installed under the Meter Asset Providers, MAPs scheme and federal government’s National Mass Metering Programme, NMMP respectively.
The slow-paced metering has called into question the financial viability and commercial performance of the industry, as it continues to be a major challenge with a decline in collection efficiency in 2020/Q4.
During the quarter under review, although total billing to the registered electricity consumers by all the eleven DisCos stood at ₦259.90billion, just ₦169.81billion was settled leaving a total outstanding balance of ₦90.09bn.
These respectively denote 75.70% and 65.34% billing and collection efficiencies and indicate 0.92%-point increase in billing efficiency and 1.38% points decrease in collection efficiency when compared with 2020/Q3.When analysed, the level of collection efficiency indicates that as much as ₦3.47 out of every ₦10 worth of energy sold during the fourth quarter of 2020 remained uncollected from customers as and when due.Low collection by the DisCos has also affected their remittance levels to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc, NBET.During the fourth quarter of 2020, a total invoice of ₦245.91billion was issued to the eleven DisCos for energy received from NBET and for service charge by the Market Operator, MO, out of which a sum of ₦146.66billion was settled indicating remittance performance of 59.64%.
Tariff shortfall (represented by the difference between the cost-reflective rates approved by NERC and actual end-user tariffs payable by consumers) has partly contributed to liquidity challenges being experienced in the industry. The financial viability of NESI has remained a major challenge threatening its sustainability.