The Niger Government and the management of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) Plc have set up a 15-member committee to work out modalities for an improved electricity power supply across the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria ( NAN) reports that the committee is to be headed by Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe, Commissioner for Works and Housing with membership that includes three other representatives from the government, three from AEDC and two from the youth groups.
The resolution was passed at an expanded meeting of the Niger State Council on Quality and Constant Electricity Supply on Thursday at Government House.
The State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ahmed Ketso who doubles as chairman of the council, said the current administration was passionate about improving electricity.
The committee is to develop a comprehensive mechanism that would ensure sustainable improvement of electricity supply across the state.
Earlier in his presentation during the meeting, the Managing Director, AEDC, Mr Ernest Mupwaya, acknowledged the desire of the people to have significant improvement in power supply.
He emphasised that such increase in electricity supply must be matched by an equal level of payment, to ensure that the company was sustainable and so keep the distribution stream alive.
He explained that since 2016, the company had been delivering 20 per cent of the entire electricity allocated to it daily from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to Niger Region.
He expressed regret that of the average N1.5 billion electricity supply bill delivered to the region monthly, only about N450 million was collected as revenue.
He said that AEDC was incurring an average annual debt accumulation of N11.48 billion, stressing that the total debt being owed the company by both big and small customers in the region currently stood at N49.58 billion.
Mr Mupwaya said in its determination to address the yearnings of its customers in Niger, Nasarawa, Kogi and the FCT, the company had provided and installed at least 120,000 meters in 2017 alone at the cost of over N4 billion.
He said AEDC was prepared to do more with improved payment for electricity delivered to its customers not only in Niger but also across its coverage areas.
He said the company was conscious that “our customers in Niger State, just as in the FCT, Kogi and Nasarawa states, are anxious to have meters”.
” We are considering putting bulk meters at transformer points so that clusters of customers such as villages or estates would be billed in accordance with readings taken from such meters”, he said.
” This bulk metering will be a stopgap arrangement because manufacturing and installation of individual meters would take some time, and we’ve noticed that one of the key desires of our customers is to be sure that their billing is being done accurately.”
The AEDC CEO further explained that the company was resorting to the bulk metering of communities or estates due to certain realities in the power sector in Nigeria which revealed that it might take some time before every electricity consumer would have a meter.
“This is because meters can’t be provided overnight due to the high number of meters to be installed.
He added that the funding challenge of the power sector was further compounded by the high foreign exchange rate, high inflation, and the tariff of the distribution companies (Discos) was not hedged.
He also used the opportunity of the Council’s meeting to solicit the cooperation of customers in the state towards regular settlement of electricity bills.
He said that the response of customers in Niger area in bills payment had not been encouraging.
The representative of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) at the meeting, Mr A. B. Mohammed, drew attention of stakeholders to the need to recognise that power sector in Nigeria had been deregulated.
“This makes it imperative for customers to pay their bills while the Disco also makes efforts to improve on the services it provides to the customers.”( NAN)