The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Power, Mr. Chinyeaka Ohaa, in this interview with Yemisi Izuora says government is desirous of stabilising the power sector through enhanced private sector partnership
How is Federal Government moving with its metering initiatives?
Talking about the mass metering program, you can see that the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN has taken it upon itself to fund six million meters across the country.
So there is a very serious deficit of metering and to make sure that we regulate the power that is why some of us are working in synergy especially with the private sector to make the industry vibrant.
So government is already coming to those who have taken it upon themselves to be more or less relevant in providing investment in the sector.
For instance the MOMAS Electricity Meters Manufacturing, MEMMCOL, is one of the few investors that has been here for thirty good years doing this and now all Nigerians can come and see.
Because we have huge capacity gap in and dearth of manpower he has decided to train 15 people each from the thirty six States of the Federation free of charge.
Training them on how to work on meters is one aspect that tge training is emphasising on and there is a very heavy local content in this exercise and that is why I went through all the stages till we got here and also interacted with the students.
What are the expected outcome in the training and Government possible buy-in?
Like i told you, the Bible says, blessed are those who believe whitout seeing, but I have visited the facility and convinced it has the essential facilities to support and sustain government initiative especially in mass metering project.
So we are proud of the young man Kola Balogun who is a true Nigerian who on his own volition invested in this massive infrastructure and has managed it for thirty solid years.
In this metering industry and i think he is the main person that all of us are looking for and if you doubt it come and see what I am seeing so I am going to report verbally to the Minister about the potentials that the industry can derive ftom the project.
What I am seeing is amazing.
The Minister and others have been here too but as the policy maker, some of us that are the implementers or accounting officers have to see things ourselves so that when they are telling me anything I would be able to defend what I have said.
I can now convince myself that I have seen what is the truth.
Is this part of FG job creation strategy?
Yes this is very significant because the students being trained in this facility will acwuire the technical know-how and stand better chance of placement in the industry because they are now well equipped and kitted.
They are the people that will be more of less the ambassadors to this industry because they will be in different states of the federation, that is the most important and it is essentially what the whole exercise is about to produce.
You can see that many of them are unemployed, so this is a job creation strategy because some other people will work with them in their different states and locallities.
What is the government doing to encourage local meter manufacturers?
Like I said the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has set aside some money under its intervention strategy to offset the six million meters and that s the thing that is happening as at now.
The CBN itself is funding it.
If you look at the new power policy, we said the thirty per cent of anything meter should have local content.
What we are saying is that the policy gives consideration to domestication of meter production.
So even though you are importing from different contries of the world, you must make sure that it has thirty per cent local content.
Secondly, I have to come here myself to see the infrastructure and the readiness of our indigenous meter assemblers and producers have.
Mr. Balogun came to my office two weeks ago and I decided to come because Federal Government is desirous of making sure that we have local manufatureres who will have economic strength and muscle that will affect every other person in terms of employment, new generation, and making sure that we address security arising from unemployment because when youths are engaged they will not be there to start #EndSARS again.
Local meter manufacturers have been asking for intervention funds, how will you facilitate this?
My visit ti this massive infrastructure is part of it, most of them have been given the requirements to go to CBN for partnership and intervention, that is what we are doing now as a policy.
We will facilitate it by helping them by idntifying them and tell them what to say to access the fund set aside for such purpose by the CBN.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has already unveiled its framework for the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP).
All these efforts are a follow up of the introduction of the service-based tariff (SBT) in the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) effective from 1st September 2020 which has put increased emphasis on the need to close the metering gap in the NESI.
The closing of this gap will enhance the efficiency of revenue collection by Distribution Companies (DisCos) and thereby facilitate the meeting their obligations to other upstream market participants.
To deal with this, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the National Mass Metering Program (NMMP) implementation.
This Framework outlines the operational modalities of the CBN financing support to the DisCos (Downstream) and Local Meter Manufacturers (Upstream).
The apex bank highlighted the key objectives of the NMMP to include increasing Nigeria’s metering rate, elimination of arbitrary estimated billing, strengthening the local meter value chain by increasing local meter manufacturing, assembly, and deployment capacity.
The initiative will support Nigeria’s economic recovery by creating jobs in the local meter value chain and reducing collection losses and increasing financial flows to achieve 100 per cent market remittance obligations of the DisCos.
It will also improve network monitoring capability and availability of data for market administration and investment decision making.
In addition, the Federal Government understands that metering effectively represents the foundation for sustainable revenue generation and commercial viability of the electricity sector.
So with electricity as the product offering, Distribution Companies, DisCos must accurately account for inflows of electricity into their network and outflows of electricity delivered to customers.
This enables them provide an assurance of fair billing and payments to and from suppliers and customers alike.
The implication is that metering must be a top priority for DisCos and the entire power sector value chain whose respective costs of service are all embedded in the final utility bill borne by the customer.
Essentially, the power sector value chain is wholly dependent on the DisCos to provide last mile services to the customer and perform the role of revenue collections.
Nigeria has been tinkering with many policies to address the nation’s energy crises, what has happened over time now?
If you watch the development in the power sector since 2015, there is a massive response or massive attack to boost power industry to address perennial generation inadequacies, distribution lapses and transmission weaknesses.
Mr President, Muhammadu Buhari has made sure that each and everyone in Nigeria has adequate electricity supply for both the commercial and private consumer.
So that is what we are doing in the last couple of years.
So most of the hydro eletric power and the thermal plants and renewable energy projects are being improved upon and we are banking on them now.
The situation with Nigeria’s power sector, has bern worrisome and has been characterized by unstable electricity supply and repeated blackouts.
The appear not to record much anticipated improvement even with the privatisation exercise and the sustained government subsidies for some users.
However, the present administration a bid to tackle the power deficit challenge head on, decisive actions have been taken to reverse the seeming intractable inadequacies of the sector.
Yes, power has remained for Nigeria a daunting challenge until President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in 2015 with foresight and vision coming up with deliberate government policies and programmes which have injected a lifeline into the power sector and, by implication, boosts Nigeria’s productive capacity to an extent.