Electricity distribution companies said on Tuesday that the country would not be able to achieve uninterrupted electricity supply in the next five years if the challenges hampering the progress of the power sector were not addressed.
The Discos stated this through the Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, Mr Sunday Oduntan, at a press conference in Lagos.
Oduntan described the liquidity crisis in the sector as a major issue, stressing the need for the government to put in place a cost-reflective tariff.
He said, “There is a need for collaboration among stakeholders in the sector to proffer solutions to the problems. So, we are willing any day; if we are called today for discussions, we will be there because we know that our businesses are at risk. This is very important for all of us to note: if the Discos collapse today, many Nigerian banks will collapse too.
“In case you don’t know, when they were selling the entities, only one of the Discos had foreign direct investment. All the others borrowed money from local banks, and they paid for the assets in dollars. The point is that those who have put their money in the sector will be the first persons to wish that the system succeeds, because the failure of the system means their money is also going down the drain.”
The ANED spokesman, in an apparent response to the views expressed by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, added, “We should not continue to politicise issues in the power sector. Whatever ANED has said so far, I implore fellow Nigerians to please check whether we are lying. Let’s discuss issues and not personalities. We have no reason to lie. For us, we have a lot of things at stake because if there is sufficient power supply, efficient distribution by us and if we do all that we are supposed to do, then we will make more money.
“So, it is in our interest for all of us to work together and find solutions to the problems of the sector. If we do that, everybody will be happy; the customers will be very happy.”
He said the issue of metering had been politicised even as the Discos expressed their willingness to support the recently introduced Meter Assets Provider Regulations.
The MAP Regulations 2018, introduced by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, is aimed at eliminating estimated billing practice, attract private investment into the provision of metering services, and close the metering gap through accelerated meter rollout.
Oduntan added, “The issue of metering is no more in the hands of any Disco in Nigeria. The regulator, of course, through the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, has taken over the issue of metering; that is the reason for that MAP regulation.
“They are the ones that should now tell us what we should do, and we are ready and willing to cooperate with the NERC to ensure that this thing becomes successful. However, our own metering that we have been doing, sometimes in trickles, will continue. But we are waiting for the MAP regulation to start so that we can all meter our customers.”
The ANED spokesman said the provision of meters to customers would eradicate the issue of estimated billing and contention over it.
He said, “But we should not miss the point, because I remember that our honourable minister still advised us to go and meter our customers. Maybe he has forgotten that he has removed that from our own duties, and that now is the duty of the MAPs.
“We are hoping to do everything possible to make the MAPs successful from our end as Discos, and we are ready to partner and cooperate with the Federal Government in any way possible but we should not all forget that the sector is bleeding, and that is why we are where we are.”