Tariff change to ease FG’s electricity subsidies burden - Afrinvest
Lagos, Nigeria

Tariff change to ease FG’s electricity subsidies burden – Afrinvest

West Africa-focused leading investment banking firm, Afrinvest Limited, has indicated support for power sector tariff review, saying it will ease electricity subsidies burden on the government’s finances.

Following the updated Multi-Year Tariff Order of the end of the year 2019, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) approved an upward review in electricity tariffs paid by consumers across the country.

This was expected to kick off on January 1, 2020. Analysts said the adjustment was in line with the amended bi-annual review provided in the MYTO 2015. However, the review showed that the new update covers an estimated tariff shortfall of ₦534.4 billion for 2020, which the government would cover.

“Implementing the recommended tariff change would ease the burden of electricity subsidies on government’s finances”, Afrinvest remarked. So, based on the FG’s Power Sector Recovery Plan (PSRP), implementation would be delayed until April 1, 2020, while a gradual transition to cost-reflective tariffs is expected by year-end 2021.

It was gathered that the tariff hike would affect all eleven distribution companies (Discos), with the increase ranging between 59.7% – 77.6% for commercial, industrial, special, and lighting consumers.

Residential electricity consumers, single and three-phase meter users with electricity consumption of about 50 kWh in premises wholly for residential purposes would be given a reprieve as the ₦4.0/kWh tariff was left unchanged.

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“In our opinion, this decision underlies the weak political will to make decisive changes which have affected the sector”, Afrinvest remarked. Read Also: Nigerian Banks Battle Liquidity Shortfall, Borrow from CBN Facility

The firm said: “Given the severe liquidity crunch affecting the power sector, with an estimated tariff shortfall of ₦1.7 trillion between 2015 and 2019, we perceive this much-awaited review as positive for the various players in the value chain”.

The investment banking firm indicated that the Discos are burdened with overdue obligations due to poor collections, as this has hampered investments and the development of the sector.

“This largely reflects high Aggregate Technical and Commercial Collection (ATC&C) losses which stood at 44.5% on average as at the second quarter of 2019”, analysts at the firm noted.

Meanwhile, Afrinvest said on the technical side, losses have been caused partly by poor infrastructure and maintenance. On commercial losses, weak tariffs, poor metering, and meter bypass, among others, are responsible.

“We believe a blend of cost-reflective tariffs and much improved metering from the current average level of 42.9% would improve collections and in turn investment across the value chain.

“However, the exclusion of certain customers means that progress would be slower than expected.

“We expect the new tariff regime if implemented, to put pressure on consumer prices as higher energy costs would translate to rising cost of production for businesses and weak purchasing power for consumers.

“But on a positive note, the gradual implementation of the increase in tariff would help consumers better adjust to the new pricing regime”, Afrinvest held.

By Sam Atanbiyi

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