Nigerian Tribune

by Gbola Subair

The acute shortage of electricity meters in the country will soon be a thing of the past as the Presidency has approved the sum of N33 billion intervention fund for its procurement.

The fund, which attracts a very low interest rate, will be made available to Distribution Companies (DISCOs) to buy meters and other electricity accessories with a view to bridging the meter deficit gap which is about three million yearly.

The Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr Benjamin Ezra Dikki, speaking in Abuja, also gave an assurance that the fixed charge currently borne by electricity consumers in the country would be dispensed with as soon as power generation increases to an economically sustainable level.

The director-general, who said the fixed charge was a temporary measure, appealed to electricity consumers to bear the burden, as it would soon be abolished, noting that the country had an installed power capacity of 6,000 megawatts, but was generating only about 3,000 to 4,000 megawatts. 

The BPE boss stated that the revenue from the 3,000 megawatts was not sufficient to support the power infrastructure.

”When power generation increases, the fixed charge will go,” he maintained.

According to him, it was the initial sacrifice consumers had to make given the huge financial investment made by the new power investors who are yet to obtain adequate returns on their investments.

Dikki added that as what obtained at the initial stages of the reform in the telecoms sector, when the cost of   the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards and telephone handsets was as high as N50,000 per SIM, “the electricity fixed charge will also crash.”

Dikki debunked claims of lack of transparency in the privatisation of Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KEDC) and the picture created of a conflict between Geometrics Power Group and Interstate Electrics Ltd, the core investor of Enugu Distribution Company.

On KEDC, he said the reserved bidder could only be invited to step in if the preferred bidder failed to pay.

He added that the preferred bidder was, within the time limit, to pay the 75 per cent balance of the bid price after an initial payment of 25 per cent had been made.

The director-general said it was wrong for anybody to call for the revocation of the sale, as the process had to complete before reversion to the reserved bidder could be made.

On Geometrics, Dikki explained that it had a 20-year contract with the Enugu Distribution Company to supply power to the Aba and Ariaria districts, which is not in contention.

“Both parties are aware of this but it baffles me when people go out to deliberately distort the facts. We don’t understand the hue and cry that Geometrics is short-changed in the transaction,” he said.