Electricity consumers in Nigeria face two significant problems.
The first one is pretty obvious: we don’t have stable electricity as 78% of electricity consumers receive less than 12 hours daily. The second one is that according to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), as of September 2021, only 37% of Nigerian electricity consumers had meters.
As of September 2021, less than 40% of electricity consumers had meters. This is because, for every four customers newly registered with the distribution companies, only one gets metered.
The problems metering companies face, access to forex and logistics, aren’t peculiar to the sector. However, meter prices are regulated, so meter companies can’t pass their costs on to consumers.
Even though the CBN is giving loans for metering under the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP), this isn’t enough to fix the problem.
Meters measure how much electricity a building gets. So, at the end of the month, you get a bill based on how much the meter says your household consumed. If it’s a pre-paid meter, you buy electricity credits, and the power goes off when you need a top-up. The only option for 63% of Nigerian electricity consumers without meters is estimated billing.
At the end of the month, they receive a bill which should be based on the estimated volume of electricity the appliances they own should consume in a month and the hours of electricity they got that month. However, the reality is a lot different.
Many electricity consumers get bills significantly above the volume of electricity their appliances could ever consume. For instance, someone who owns a TV and a fan should get a bill of ₦2,000, but they get billed for ₦20,000. Even if their fan and TV were on 24/7 and there was electricity round-the-clock, there’s no way they would consume that much.
It’s like someone who goes to a supermarket and picks an apple. But when they get to the till, even though they picked one apple, they get charged for two. It’s triggering on so many levels. One, you went into the supermarket with ₦100 because you knew you could only eat one apple and you don’t have money for two. So, you complain to the supermarket, and they refuse to reduce your bill. And even though they know there’s no way you could have taken more than one apple, they insist they bill you for two. Also, if you refuse to pay, you get banned from entering any other supermarket in the state. For an electricity customer, this means your electricity gets disconnected.
It’s basically gaslighting because you will begin to question your own