September 16, 2022

With a mix of Federal Government Support and Legislative Actions, mass metering program extended to 4 million Nigerians

Promise: Mandatory allocation of pre-paid meters: Mandate allocation of pre-paid meters to all consumers and halt the practice of estimated billing practices

Last Updated
September 16, 2022
min read

In the House of Representatives (HOR) revised legislative agenda document, the Gbajabiamila-led House of Representatives pledged to ensure the mandatory allocation of pre-paid meters to all consumers.” This became an important issue as Nigerians continue to lament about the ‘practice of estimated billing practice’ of the electricity distribution companies in Nigeria.

Barely one month into the eighth assembly, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila presented a bill ‘Electric Power Sector Reform Act (Amendment) Bill 2019’, the first bill in the current HOR. When presented, the bill (now Act) seeks to amend the existing Electric Power Sector Reforms Act, 2005. One of its core focuses is to provide compulsory installation of pre-paid meters to all power consumers in Nigeria. In October 2019, the HOR had the third reading on this bill and it was eventually passed.

After the bill's passage by the legislators, significant progress has been made in distributing meters to citizens across the country. In October 2020, the Federal Government through the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) declared the commencement of distribution of six million free pre-paid electricity meters to Nigerians during the take-off of the program in Lagos.

“NMMP would increase Nigeria’s metering rate, eliminate estimated billing and strengthen the local meter value chain by increasing local meter manufacturing, assembly and deployment capacity,” said Adeoye Fadeyibi, the CEO and the managing director of Eko DisCo while also noting that the program will be rolled out within 18-24 months.

In November 2021, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) announced that consumers are not mandated to pay for meters that are issued to them under the NMMP. Under the present administration, NERC had also “informed electricity consumers that the next phase (Phase 1) under which about four million units of meters would be procured from local meter manufacturers will commence in the first quarter of 2022,” in a statement. The commission further stated, “funds for the new batch of meters are being provided by the federal government and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).”  

Promise: Mandatory allocation of pre-paid meters: Mandate allocation of pre-paid meters to all consumers and halt the practice of estimated billing practices

While all this progress has been recorded, there have been drawbacks. In July 2022, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) moved to freeze 157 accounts of companies that are Meter Asset Providers (MAPs) for allegedly diverting funds that were solely meant for the procurement of prepaid meters. This move was after the apex bank dragged the 10 MAPs companies to the court in Lokoja.

The Central Bank noted that “the diversion of the power sector intervention funds under the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) provided by the applicant’s banks, has further occasioned grave instability in the power sector and sustained the estimated billing regime which the federal government is making frantic efforts to make a thing of the past.”    

This, however, does not take away the fulfillment of the pledge made by the legislation in its Legislative Agenda document. The Gbajabiamila-led led HOR ensured the enactment of an important bill that further gave way for relevant regulatory support to the mass metering project of the federal government, and the transitioning from estimated billing by electric distribution companies in the country. Therefore, we rate this Promise Kept.