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FCCPC Finds Electricity DisCos Oppressive To Nigerians Despite Huge Earnings

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Despite raking in staggering amounts as revenues from customers over the years, it emerged on Monday that Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) operating in Nigeria’s electricity supply industry have been oppressive in their dealings with electricity consumers in the country.

This was disclosed by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), warning that players in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) cannot last in business if they don’t change the way they relate with customers.

Prime Business Africa reports that the Nigerian power sector was privatized in 2013 under the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005, which saw the sector’s balkanization into: generation, transmission and distribution. While the generation and distribution were left in the hands of the private sector, the transmission still remains under the government.

The DisCos that took over were meant to provide meters for customers to end estimated billings which created room for exploitation of customers as they were often over-charged for what they did not consume. Unfortunately, the practice of DisCos issuing out estimated billings every month has persisted as the federal government’s national mass metering programme failed to achieve its target.

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Recent data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) indicates that DisCos grew their profits from estimated billings. Metered customers in the fourth quarter of 2022 stood at 5.13 million from the 5.02 million customers recorded in the quarter of 2022, indicating a 2 per cent growth rate. Conversely, the number of estimated billing customers was 5.93 million in the fourth quarter of 2022, which was higher by 0.34 per cent from the 5.91 million reported in the third quarter of 2022.

More recently, the DisCos generated N263.08 billion in revenue in the second quarter of 2023 as against the N247.33 billion generated in the preceding quarter. On a year-on-year basis, revenue generated in the reference period rose by 39.63 per cent from N188.41 billion recorded in Q2 2022.

Despite these increasing earnings, the distribution companies have been accused of being unfair to their customers. The Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera stated this in Ibadan, Oyo State, at the Electricity Consumer Complaint Resolution Platform for customers under the Ibadan Electricity Company (IBEDC) franchise area.

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According to him, “The apt way to describe the relationship between consumers and DisCos is oppressive. No business can endure long-term or generationally in that mode.

“We must change that narrative by being sensitive, responsive and transparent with consumers.

“One of the most significant complaints of electricity consumers has always been how they are being treated by the electricity distribution companies.

“So, we created this platform where we bring our team of complaint resolution specialists and ensure that the service provider also brings its customer service operatives.

“We sit for a few days, resolve as many complaints as we can, engage the stakeholders, identify problems, and work out solutions,” Irukera said.

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