Consumer groups have kicked against electricity tariff hike approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) for distribution companies.
The tariff increase which ranged from 10 percent to 70 percent depending consumer’s category was approved by NERC on December 31, 2020.
Speaking on the new tariff hike, the President of the Electricity Consumers Association of Nigeria (ECAN), Barrister Chijoke James described it as insensitive, noting that so far the improvement in services promised by the government during the tariff increase last year has not happened.
James explained that consumers are several challenges which have reduced their buying power.
He warned that an increase in tariff at this time would impact negatively on the economy and lead to hyper inflation.
“Increasing electricity by over 50 percent without some key issues being resolved is insensitive. You increasing taxes on daily basis, then the buying power is non-existent. There are no employments, unemployment is galloping.
“There are no disposable incomes for people to spend combined with galloping inflation. I think it will be insensitive on the part of government to allow for that kind of increase in this period”, he stated.
Also speaking the President of Network for Energy Reform (Nigeria), Mr. Kunle Olubiyo said there is a big mis-alignment of governance in the power sector and the policy direction of government.
He said if the government wants to deregulate the sector then it must by holistic.
“What we are saying is that the tariff before September 1, 2020 that was N24/kwh was profitable for the companies”, he said.
Olubiyo accused the government of hiding behind the price of gas to increase tariff noting that as gas producing country, the cost was far below what the government was disclosing.
On the impact on customers who are still struggling to cope with the impact of Covid-19 on their income, he said, “the tariff that was suspended in September is now being legitimized by NERC, giving legitimacy to distribution companies to increase tariff”.