Energy expert and professor of Energy and Electricity Law at the University of Lagos, Yemi Oke has appealed to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) not to approve an increase in the electricity tariff for distribution companies.
This is customers of Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) in Nigeria increased from 11.06 million in Q4 2022 to 11.27 million in Q1 2023
Prof Oke, who made this call in response to recent media reports on the proposed increase in electricity tariff from July 1, 2023, said it is inappropriate at this point in time.
Oke said Nigerians cannot afford another energy hike having recently had removal of petroleum subsidy, which has seen the price of premium motor spirit also known as petrol rise from N194 to N537 and above per litre.
He however said it is still in the realm of speculation because the Regulator, NERC has not confirmed that there will be an increase in electricity tariff from 1st july.
He blamed the current situation on regulatory inefficiency and said that Nigerians cannot feel the impact of the regulator. He said, it’s like there’s no one in charge to regulate.
“I’m not in support of tariff increase at this point in time. I am totally against it. I’m not in support of it for now.
A prudent regulator will know that this is a wrong time to introduce that because of trends in the country. If there will be an increase, they probably should have been aware, and there should have been sensitisation to get people prepared,” he said.
The energy expert decried the high number of unmetered customers in the country saying metering is crucial to help customers regulate their consumption.
He said if the tariff is increased, Nigerians will need to be able to modulate and regulate their consumption pattern. “Those who have been consuming four hours of electricity per day may now shift to like, two hours. But the problem and the challenge will be for those who are still using estimated meters and those who have not been metered at all. People must have a choice. “People must have an option if you’re going to increase your product, I must be able to decide whether I want to buy it at that rate. Or decide the quantity of product I want to buy from you in view of the adjustment in prices.
But that’s not going to be possible with those who are using estimated billing.
“And for industries, too, that would be burdensome on them because I also feel the same thing from my own personal experience.
In most cases the electricity supply is abysmal, and is poor. And what has continued to increase is the bills. Supplies have not increased significantly. So there’s no justification for this,” Prof. Oke said.