By Oke Peter
The Federal Government on Monday announced that it had recovered $64.63m electricity debt from the Republics of Benin and Niger.
According to the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company (NBET) has been directed to work out the modalities for the distribution of the money to power producing firms across the country.
NBET and the Transmission Company of Nigeria earlier wrote to the power firms of the Republics of Benin and Niger, demanding the payment of an outstanding $115.91m (about N35.4bn at the official exchange rate of N305 to a dollar) for electricity supplied to both countries by Nigeria.
It was gathered that the letter was written to NIGELEC of the Republic of Niger and Community Electric du Benin of the Republic of Benin.
But in his speech at a power event in Asaba on Monday, Fashola said, “I am happy to announce that we have recovered $64,630,055 from our international customers in Benin Republic and Republic of Niger. The Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader will work out the modalities for distribution.”
The minister, however, noted that there were other challenges that the power sector must overcome together, stressing that estimated billing and inadequate metering were among the constraints facing the industry.
Fashola added, “And in this regard, we anxiously await the regulation from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to open up the meter supply business.
“Similarly, I am happy to report that following the approval of the Federal Executive Council earlier in the year, the dispute over the meter supply contract that started since 2003 was resolved by a court-approved settlement on Thursday, November 9, 2017.
“This means that there will be N37bn available for meter supply by the contractor to the Discos who want to partner and can reach their independent agreement with the contractor. While we await the regulations by NERC, a lot of preparatory work can be done.”
The minutes of the meeting stated that the problems of right of way for the 11Kv and 33Kv distribution lines within the states was one that the sector must overcome together.
“I have signed letters last week to all 36 state governors and the Federal Capital Territory minister, with copies to each Disco asking them to support you in protecting and recovering the right of way for your distribution lines so that you can serve their states and residents better,” the minister stated.