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AMMN oppose WB-funded bid for meters

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By Abraham Adekunle

Association says FG has abandoned pending meter supply contract to its members.

In Nigeria’s effort to bridge the metering gap, the Federal Government initiated the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP) to cushion the effect of service reflective tariffs on electricity consumers in Nigeria. This initiative, which is a collaboration between the FG and electricity distribution companies (DisCos) as well as local meter manufacturers to provide smart prepaid meters to all unmetered customers. The objective of the NMMP is to fast track the rate of metering in the country in order to eliminate estimated billing.

This metering program has gained wide acceptance among Nigerians as there is no case of “crazy bills” except there are arrears payments issues on the meter. In another perspective, heavy gadget users have reported limitations in using them for cost reasons. Whatever the case may be, people have reported an increase in power supply where the metering program has extended to. The logic is simply that there will be no bills to be paid to the distribution companies except power is supplied so that the electricity units are used up.

Government reportedly abandons phase one of the program.

Meter producers under the aegis of the Association of Meter Manufacturers of Nigeria (AMMN) have registered their displeasure against the World Bank-funded bid process for the supply and installation of 1.2 million smart electricity meters to the 11 distribution companies (Discos) under Phase 2 of the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP). The association revealed this in a letter, which was addressed to the director-general of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and dated July 4, 2023. The association called for the immediate suspension of the World Bank-funded bid process.

In the letter, jointly signed by the acting president of the manufacturers’ association, Ademola Agoro, and the secretary, Duro Omogbenigun, AMMN urged the BPP DG to issue a directive to the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to honor the pending four million meters supply contract awarded to its members since November 2022 under the Phase 1 of the NMMP. They argued that the recently advertised bid process only favored foreign firms with no track of their investment in the country. Also, this was against the backward integration policy of the Federal Government.

Backward integration has helped local manufacturers scale up.

AMMN warned that the tender closing on July 11, 2023 would amount to a constructive breach of the award of contracts for four million meters under Phase One of the program if left to continue. Some of AMMN members had been awarded since November 2022 by TCN. The letter also contained that the bid process is being opened to foreign companies – manufacturers, suppliers, and exporters – of fully-built electricity meters with planned Custom Duty waivers granted to them to import meters into Nigeria.

As a result of backward integration, the manufacturers’ organization said its members had scaled up their production capacities by obtaining facilities from the banks to meet the supplies of these meters to the distribution companies. It further said that the body had readied to supply these meters before the government abandoned the awards already made to its members and went ahead to advertise the World Bank-funded international procurement for 1.2 million meters under Phase Two. The association said that the requirements were majorly in favor of foreign companies.

BPP DG asked to suspend the bid process pending consultation.

Consequently, the association called on the BPP DG to immediately suspend the TCN bid process for Phase Two, pending proper consultation of the stakeholders in the power sector, especially the meter manufacturers. According to them, such action would help to address its members’ concerns regarding the pendency of Phase 1 of the NMMP and the award of the contracts in Phase One, which had not been funded till date. They also pleaded with the BPP boss to direct the TCN, NERC, and CBN to honor the award of contracts for the supply of four million meters as awarded to the local meter manufacturers in Phase 1 of the NMMP.

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