Home Energy Nigeria’s 4 million free metering project is stuck

Nigeria’s 4 million free metering project is stuck


The Federal Government’s National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) that targets to meter four million power users in phase one, is yet to begin since over one month after it was slated to commence in August.

A source close to the matter said there was no indication that the phase one meter distribution programme would commence any time soon, as the distribution companies were “yet to be furnished with meters for the phase one.”

It was learnt that the inability of the government to resume the metering programme might not be unconnected to allegations of fraud against some of the Meter Asset Providers by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The NMMP is an initiative of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission in conjunction with the Presidential Power Task Force.

The initiative was inaugurated in August 2020 to allow the CBN to fund the acquisition of meters on behalf of Discos by paying directly to the MAPs. The free metering programme commenced with phase zero where one million meters were supposed to have been distributed.

However, the CBN on July 20, 2022, asked the Federal High Court in Lokoja, Kogi State, to freeze accounts belonging to 157 MAPs for allegedly diverting funds meant for the procurement of prepaid meters.

The apex bank in a suit had requested commercial banks to restrict the account of 10 companies that received power sector intervention funds under the NMMP for 180 days pending the outcome of its investigation.

Following the ongoing court case, the free mass metering programme had been put on hold until further notice.

One of our sources told our correspondent that some of the Discos had accused some MAPs of not supplying them with enough meters during the last metering round despite getting funds from CBN.

“The CBN visited the Discos to audit their books and see what they used the intervention funds given to them for. It was during the visits that it was discovered that some of the MAPs had failed to deliver enough meters for distribution,” the source stated.

The source added, “Before the NMMP commenced, what we were told by the MAPs was that they had enough local capacity to meet demand. But after the CBN signed the contract with them and disbursed money to them, they failed to meet their target. They saw free money.”

The MAPs companies listed by the CBN as being involved in the diversion include Mojec Meter Asset Management Company Limited, Integrated Power Nigeria Limited, Holley Metering Limited, Protogy Global Services Limited, and Turbo Energy Limited.

Others were G-Unit Engineering Limited, Koby Global Engineering Services Limited, FLT Energy Systems Limited, Smart Meters Asset Provider Company Limited, and Cresthill Engineering Limited.

The CBN had invested heavily into the power sector through its intervention support programmes, with over N254.4bn disbursed through its Nigeria Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility – Phase 2.

At the last Monetary Policy Committee meeting of the bank,  its Governor, Godwin Emefiele, revealed that the bank disbursed N47.8bn for about 865,956 meters across the country.

The NERC had stated in a statement that it created the initiative in response to President’s order that Nigerians must be metered. “The President has directed that there should be a nationwide mass metering programme in an effort by the Federal Government to put a stop to estimated and arbitrary billing for electricity,” the commission said.

It recently spoke about the success of the Phase 0, and revealed it had shortlisted 45 companies for the next phase.

Both calls and messages put through to the General Manager/Head of Public Affairs Department, NERC, Usman Arabi, were not responded to as at the time of filing this report.

One of the accused MAPs, Mojec Meter Asset Management Company Ltd, told The PUNCH that it fully discharged its obligations of manufacturing, supplying, and installation of meters for all eight Discos it was assigned to.

The company also pointed out that it was issued certificates of completion by all the eight Disco clients as proof of execution of its contractual obligations on the initiative, according to the Corporate Communications Manager, MOJEC International Group, Olufunso Adeolu.

The PUNCH was unable to get comments from other accused MAPs up till the time of filing this report.

Metering Expert, Okunade Sesan, said it was better than the NMMP being scrapped so that citizens would be allowed to buy their own meters.

“The CBN refusing to disburse funds for the next phase of the metering programme is going to cause a setback. It would even be better for electricity consumers to take their fate into their hands and buy their meters. Then, the NERC can arrange for monthly refunds through electricity units,” he said.

Meanwhile, the NERC had said the huge metering gap for end-use customers was still a key challenge in the industry.

Data sourced from the commission showed that the metering capacity of utility firms dropped by 255 percent between the third quarter and fourth quarter of 2021.

The newly released report said a total of 81,084 meters were installed in 2021/Q4 as compared to the 288,154 meters installed in 2021/Q3.

NERC said the reduction in the number of meter installations in 2021/Q4 was largely driven by the winding down of the NMMP phase zero.



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