No Plan to take over DISCOs – FG

as AEDC laments stuck meters at ports
By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA: The Federal Government said yesterday that it was working towards strengthening the electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs, to ensure smooth operations and not taking them over as being speculated in some quarters.
The Minister of State, Power, Mr. Goddy Jedy-Agba, who disclosed this, while speaking during his visit to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, AEDC, in Abuja, noted there was no iota of truth in the reports making the rounds on the alleged plan.
Mr. Jedy-Agba, who described facilities deployed by the AEDC as ‘world-class’ added that the government was doing a lot to sort out the knotty issues surrounding the import duty which is hindering the effective metering of more Nigerian households.
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According to him, “They AEDC have explained how things work in real-time. This DISCO is doing very well, they just need a little more effort, but they are good. Nobody is thinking of dismantling DISCO. All we are doing is revamping Discos and adding to them to make them better.
“We also talked about metering. And they are doing a lot to handle that already. AEDC has metered about 65 percent of their clients. If they do, there will be no problems with the rest of it. Metering and funds collection go hand in hand.
“Issues and disagreements will always arise between Discos and Nigerians unless the provision of meters is ramped up.
“If they don’t have enough or adequate metering, they won’t pay bills appropriately. There will be the argument because you are either under-billing me or over-billing me. This is a business. The businessman invests his money.
“The Federal Government is working on the 35 percent duty paid on imported meters. We will soon get the results.”
The Managing Director of AEDC, Engr. Ernest Mupwaya, in his remarks, said that though his company was willing to ensure metering for 100 percent of its customers, it was being hindered by the high tariffs imposed by the federal government.
Engr. Mupwaya lamented that thousands of meters were stuck in the country’s ports due to the 35 percent duty set by the Customs Service, despite cries of the scarcity of the devices by Nigerians.
He explained that AEDC had metered 4,000 in the first phase, plus 160,000 and then 100,000 on the Meter Asset Provider, MAP, scheme, adding up to 260,000 in all.
According to him, “We have the capability of installing 3,000 meters a day. But we have been constrained because thousands of our meters are stuck at the port because of the issue of import duty.
“But we have information that the government is doing everything to resolve this issue so that meters can be made available so that we can ramp up metering because a customer who’s metered has high willingness to pay.”
The MD recalled that “When AEDC took over, it was collecting N2 billion monthly, but said that despite the increase to an average of N6.5 billion, the market bill had been increasing for the Discos.
“When there is a movement in foreign exchange, the bill increases as a result of inflation, but billing customers has lagged behind.
“Our wholesale price for the energy that we receive has gone up by more than 130 percent, but our own billing to the customer has only increased by 16 percent.”
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