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Analysts decry impacts of worsening electricity on poverty

The poor state of electricity supply in Nigeria may continue to increase the poverty rate and frustrate attempts by local and international organisations in empowering the citizen, analysts under the Association for Public Policy Analysis (APPA) said in Abuja.

The group equally insisted that most electricity end users were being denied their rights given the poor level of consumer protection in the country fuelled by the lack of awareness and education that would have provided needed information to the citizens on their rights.

President of the association, Princewill Okorie stated that there was a need to ensure that licensees perform to standards set by the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005, through training and educational programmes, thereby ensuring that the government’s objective of delivering power for increased productivity, consumer satisfaction, community development and increased revenue for investors was achieved.

In a letter filed to key public and private entities over the development, Okorie said the group had prioritised the need to advocate sensitisation of citizens by training Small and Medium Enterprises, which is under the umbrella of SMEDAM to acquaint them with the provisions of consumer protection component of Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005.

“It will also equip them with skills to identify and prevent unwholesome business practices. In addition, it will help establish beneficial relationships between consumers and Electricity Distribution Companies in Nigeria, to enhance productivity and efficient management of scarce resources,” Okorie said.

The initiatives tagged: “National Electricity Consumer Protection Education Programme (NECPEP) and Electricity Consumer Protection Education Programme (NASMECOP)” with necessary support is expected to assist in the eradication of poverty in the country, ensure sustainable growth and development, empower women and youths and lead to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) four, seven, eight, 12 and 17.

Okorie said: “Adequate and affordable Electricity will be required for realisation of the above SDG goals while exploitation through fraudulent estimated billing and non-compliance with regulatory procedures will lead to non-actualization of the lofty SDG goals.

“For example, the 11 electricity distribution companies (DISCOS) across Nigeria were said to have received a total sum of N542.73billion out of N816.15 billion they sent as bills to their consumers in 2020”, he said.

According to him, the nature of electricity supply in the country promotes poverty, frustrate empowerment programmes and sustainable development.

Okorie stated that there are no government agencies saddled with the responsibility of funding or coordinating Electricity Consumer Protection Education, stressing that consumer education meant to enhance enforcement and implementation is lacking.

“Therefore, the consumer is not aware or has no knowledge of section 80 and 81 of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005, which deals with Electricity Consumer Protection and Licensee Performance Standards.

“Also, international development partners and donor agencies contributing towards poverty reduction, human rights abuses, empowerment and promoting sustainable livelihood, sustainable education have no programme, project or funds dedicated to electricity consumer protection education in Nigeria,” he said.

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