By Obas Esiedesa / Abuja
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on Monday began move to empower consumers in the electricity sector with the setting up of the Nigerian Electricity Consumer Advocacy Network (NECAN).
NECAN is expected to be a strong voice for electricity consumers across the country, especially during negotiations for tariff adjustments.
The commission had about three weeks ago announced that electricity distribution companies and consumers would now determine any tariff increase in the sector.
NERC Chairman, Dr. Sam Amadi explained during the inaugural meeting of the network in Abuja that the absence of knowledgeable, credible, and broad based advocacy for electricity consumers in the sector has led to conflicts among stakeholders.
Amadi noted that given the strength of the operators (generation, transmission, distribution companies), consumers need a strong platform to push their cases when such was needed.
According to him, “the fact is that consumer voice is under-represented in the emergent electricity market. The reasons for this deficit of consumer voice and power are that individual consumers and consumer groups are too dispersed and too fragmented and their levels of engagement too superficial, too episodic to have the desired impact on outcomes in the sector”.
Amadi stated that the consumers’ situation is in sharp contrast to those of the service providers who are “few, highly funded and highly organized. As operators, they have the incentives to gain better understanding of the technicalities of the industry, and they could afford the best of intellectual support to shore up their knowledge base and negotiation power.
“They are also better acquainted with the issues and the processes of the sector and have greater access to the decision-making process. The sum of all these is that when compared to the consumers, the operators have a greater share of voice and are better positioned to protect their interests and shape outcome in the post-privatisation electricity market in Nigeria”, he explained.
Source : Independent