FX rates, clearing bottlenecks, others delay optimal deployment of prepaid meters — MAP cries out

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By Uthman Salami

Meter Asset Providers have hinted that foreign exchange rates, Customs clearing bottlenecks and others key issues are responsible and hindering Nigerians from having proper asses to prepaid meters in the country.

This was stated in a communique jointly issued by the individual association members during a meeting which was recently held in Lagos.

Other factors that are militating the distribution of prepared meter as discussed in the meeting include “unavailability of foreign exchange from CBN, Customs clearing bottlenecks, implementation of the 35 per cent levy waiver granted by the President on fully built prepaid meters and improvements to the industry structure for accelerated prepaid meter deployment.”

They also noted “the disruptions in global supply chain resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, with an attendant increase in international prices of raw materials and components required in the manufacture and assembly of prepaid meters.”

While proferring solutions to all the bottlenecks hampering the deployment of meter to consumers  in Nigeria, they disclosed that “there will be a corresponding downward review of meter prices when there is a downward movement in foreign exchange rates and other cost factors.”

They said this was as a result of continued upward movement of foreign exchange rates, which they attributed to “increase in customs costs, increase in container freight costs, and the disruptions in the international supply chain, leading to a global increase in the prices of raw materials and components for the manufacture of prepaid meters.”

The communique partly read, “The CBN should guarantee access to foreign exchange to Local Meter Manufacturers and Assemblers for the procurement of parts and accessories (Completely Knocked Down (CKD) or Semi Knocked Down (SKD) parts) including equipment for meter manufacturing/production as well as expansion of factory infrastructure.

“The Nigerian Customs Services (Customs) should be encouraged to create dedicated desks/teams at the various ports to fast track the clearing of prepaid meters and components from the ports to improve on delivery timelines. Further, it is crucial that Fed Min. of Finance and Customs harmonise and provide clarity on HS codes for uniform assessment as relates to meters, meters parts, components and accessories.

“Change in the modalities for the implementation of the presidential waiver of the 35 per cent levy on fully built prepaid meters and extension up to December 2022. The list of all NERC approved MAPs benefitting from the levy waiver should be made available by NERC/FMF to the Customs to circulate to their commands, thus removing the requirement from MAPs to individually apply to NERC each time.

“The timeframe for presidential waiver should be further extended to December 2022.

“Combined Implementation of MAP and NMMP Programmes: The MAP scheme is critical to the closing of the metering gap and should operate alongside the implementation of the NMMP. MAPs are crucial to the attainment of the mass metering roll-out having invested, built, and trained critical manpower and logistics for installation and management of prepaid meters.

“Nigerian Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) should drive a review of material requirements for the production of meter and metering components and accessories such as meter boxes, relays, etc. This will facilitate the utilisation of available local materials to increase local input in the deployment of meters and reduce foreign currency requirements.

“That NERC should urgently convene a roundtable meeting of all stakeholders in the metering sector consisting of the Federal Ministry of Power, Office of the Vice President, CBN, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Customs, NEMSA, DisCos and MAP/Meter Manufacturers & Assemblers to engage on the key issues and above recommendations.”