7 August 2012

Nigeria: Ops Seeks Dialogue With PHCN Over Electricity Tariff

The Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has called for a dialogue with the Power Holding Company of Nigeria to address consumers dissatisfaction with the power billing regime in the country.

NACCIMA President, Dr Herb Ajayi, told THISDAY that the power sector reforms being implemented by the federal government was an effort in the right direction but was fraught with numerous discrepancies especially in the area of the new tariff.

He therefore called for a dialogue between PHCN and stakeholders and also suggested that pilot tests should be carried out to identify and manage the kind of hiccups associated with the new tariff programme.

He said that unless the process of obtaining pre-paid meters was simplified and made transparent, managing the new tariff would pose a difficulty to the operators claiming that it worked for GSM and with more specialised effort it could also work for power distribution.

He said that businesses would want to pay for only the amount of energy consumed and not having to be billed on estimation basis.

"Estimated billing should be scrapped completely; when everybody pays for power consumed it is likely to multiply the income of PHCN. We want to see a holistic approach to reforms in all sectors of the national economy which will assure us of attaining the economic points we want to be in 2015 or 2020.

Especially with the amount of money, effort, incentives and sacrifices more should be done to train and educate the civil service that is responsible for carrying out its policies so that the reforms and every agenda of government can be properly and effectively carried out," he said.

Also speaking on the issue, the Director -General of the chamber, John Isemede, noted that power was different from GSM, adding that electricity or power was not the technology of today.

"We are where we are today because of poor planning, we complain about refineries, we complain about roads, we complain about infrastructure and we complain about power.

He reasoned that a situation where the country was being run based on yearly budgets and projections would not get us to the promised land.

"In other parts of the world we have heard of the martial plan and the Japanese plan, in the past we used to hear of the four years national rolling plan, but today we see governments initiating projects that exceed their tenures in office and at the end of the day money would not be enough to run the projects; this accounts for the abandoned projects that are all over the country," he said.

According to him, if we have to go back to the basics of the national rolling plan, in 10 years electricity; five years a good railway system; four years a good aviation industry, then we will now know that we have a clear focus.

He pointed out that when the GSM people came it was capital intensive because the infrastructure was not there, and very many people were sceptical whether it would work because the telephone on the table was not giving us what was expected, so expecting the mobile phones to be any better seemed like a pipe dream.

"But that issue was resolved by having one base station for all the carriers to connect to and it became a success story with those who took the risk making good returns on investment," he added.

Secondly, he also said that the people rushing in to partake in the privatisation of electricity today had not considered or realised the more complex technology involved in a bulb that is connected to a wire, which connects to the main, to the meter, to the transformer and from there to Kainji power station.

He noted that government did not promise us generators and even if we are able to generate electricity, the problems of transmission and distribution will still be there.

"We have been talking to the government in a simple language calling for a road map with a benchmark in order to record visible achievements within a specified time frame instead of trying to run the country based on miracles," he said.

He expressed worry that there had been a lot of bail-out initiatives by the government but a lot of Nigerians have the wrong attitude towards these efforts by seeing them as an opportunity to share from the national cake.

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