Electricity Woes Persist: Seven Million Customers Unmetered, Power Generation Dips To 4,387MW

Daud Olatunji

In a scenario that spells persistent trouble for Nigeria’s electricity sector, a significant metering crisis continues to plague the industry, leaving approximately seven million customers without the crucial meters needed for accurate billing and effective management of power consumption. 

This unsettling reality, coupled with a decline in power generation, presents a dual challenge that threatens to extend the hardships faced by both consumers and power distribution companies (DisCos).

According to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the situation is laid bare in its 2023 second-quarter report. 

As of June 30th, 2023, out of the 12,561,049 registered electricity customers, only 44.16 percent (5,546,483) were equipped with meters, leaving a staggering 55.84 percent (7,014,566) of customers without meters. Despite a two percent change in the metering rate, the gaps persist.

During the second quarter of 2023, NERC reported that 178,864 end-user customers were metered, increasing the metering rate by 0.85 percentage points relative to the previous quarter.

 However, the metering crisis remains obstinate, and this increase barely scratches the surface of the country’s metering needs.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s power generation has suffered a setback, with the average available generation capacity of the 26 grid-connected power plants plummeting to 4,387.91MW, a 4.73 percent drop compared to the 4,605.72MW recorded in the first quarter of 2023. 

NERC attributes this decline to various factors, including gas constraints, mechanical faults affecting gas-fired thermal power plants, unscheduled maintenance, shutdowns, total overhauls, depletion of dam reserves, and water management affecting hydro-dams.

Of the 26 grid-connected power plants, 16 recorded a decrease in total generation, resulting in a 5.17 percent decrease in total electricity generated. NERC also reported a 6.33 percent decrease in the average hourly generation of available units.

In an attempt to tackle the metering issue, NERC revealed that Ikeja, Ibadan, Abuja, and Enugu DisCos had the highest number of meter installations in the second quarter of 2023, accounting for 72.69 percent of total installations. 

However, not all DisCos showed improvement, with Yola, Kaduna, and Enugu recording declines in the number of meters installed compared to the first quarter.

NERC’s report also highlighted the distribution of meters under different frameworks, with the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) framework accounting for 94.15 percent of meter installations in the second quarter. 

The National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) and other frameworks made up the remaining installations.

Stakeholders in the industry emphasized the need for a more comprehensive and sustainable approach to metering. 

Adetayo Adegbemle, Executive Director of PowerUp Nigeria, highlighted the necessity for an infrastructure investment fund and attracting investors to bridge the funding gap for metering.

 Emeka Ojoko, Executive Coordinator of NEPA WAHALA NG, emphasized that penalties must be imposed on DisCos to motivate them to meet metering deadlines.

 Delays in the NMMP’s second phase and World Bank loan complications were also identified as contributing factors to the metering challenges.

As Nigeria grapples with these dual challenges of unmetered customers and reduced power generation, the need for a comprehensive and coordinated strategy to address these issues becomes more evident than ever.

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