Special to USAfrica magazine (Houston) and USAfricaonline.com, first African-owned, US-based newspaper published on the Internet.
Prof. Bart Nnaji
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) of the United States has hired and trained 35 Nigerians to work with Aba Power Limited, Nigeria’s newest power distribution firm, to enumerate electricity consumers in nine out of the 17 local government areas (LGAs) in Abia State where it has been providing electricity since last February.
This was made known in a statement by the Managing Director of the utility firm, Patrick Umeh, a former Commissioner with the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), who also disclosed that the enumeration will start on Tuesday, December 6.
The corporation has stated that the enumerators, who will go from house to house for four months, include computer scientists, statisticians, geographers and related professionals using the Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to conduct the exercise.
Umeh, a former executive of the Los Angeles Water and Power Company in California in the United States, said that the enumeration became necessary because “Aba Power is embarking on a major network expansion to enable it to provide not only 24-hour service from year to year to all consumers but also quality power to make manufacturers in Aba and environs become more competitive”.
Among other benefits, the enumeration will help the company to determine transformers and other electricity distribution infrastructure which are already overloaded or may be overburdened soon.
“We are using the GPS to identify the location of each structure and the consumers there and provide each a unique identification number which will be used to deal with any problem from each structure”, Umeh explained.
He disclosed that some electricity consumers are exploited by their landlords and even co-tenants through non-provision of separate meters.
“These consumers pay electricity bills to the landlords and fellow tenants, as the case may be, but the latter pocket the money, making the helpless paying-consumers suffer unfairly when they are cut off from power supply for nonpayment”, he observed.
“We will end the exploitation by providing each consumer with a separate meter as we carry out the consumer survey”.
The Aba Power boss disclosed that some places within the company’s coverage are still without electricity.
“This is unacceptable in the 21st century as Nigeria is in a hurry to develop rapidly. All these gaps have to be closed immediately”.
An engineer with the utility firm, Jude Efidi, told journalists in Aba today that following massive and sustained improvements in power supply in recent months in the area serviced by Aba Power, local and foreign manufacturing firms which for years depended solely on self-power generation on account of inefficient public electricity supply “are fast turning to us because it is far cheaper to obtain power from us”.
Companies like Nigerian Breweries and Guinness Breweries have for long been providing their own power because the poor and unpredictable supply from the national grid caused them to lose their sensitive and expensive equipment and machines.
“The era of what economists call suppressed demand is coming to an end as far as power supply in the nine LGAs in Abia State is concerned because of the dramatic improvements in our service delivery”, Efidi enthused.
“The enumeration has become imperative to enable us to plan effectively not just for now but also for the future, as is the case in developed nations.”
“To our chairman, Professor Bart Nnaji, a former Minister of Power and a world-class engineering professor, it is an article of faith we provide world-class service.”