The Chairman, Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr Sam Amadi, yesterday said that consumer voice was under-represented in the emerging electricity market.
Amadi said this at the inaugural meeting of the Nigerian Electricity Consumer Advocacy Network (NECAN) in Abuja.
According to him, one of the observable gaps in the current electricity market in Nigeria is the absence of knowledgeable, credible, and broad-based advocacy for electricity consumers.
He said that the reason for the deficit of consumer voice and power were mostly due to the attitude of the consumers.
“The individual consumer and consumer groups are too dispersed and fragmented and their levels of engagement too superficial, adversarial and episodic to have the desired impact on outcomes in the sector.
“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. Therefore, there is a deficit of democracy in the electricity in the market.”
Amadi noted that it was due to the reasons that NERC had organised the forum to provide a platform where consumer voice could be heard.
“The law mandates NERC to protect consumers access to adequate, safe, reliable and affordable electricity and our basic realisation is to establish consumer power in the market.”
He said there was a pressing challenge to institutionalise consumer power, thus creating a balance of power in the market to ensure a smooth transition to a competitive and efficient market.
“Such transition, however, required peaceful cooperation between various stakeholders in the market.
“Until consumers are organised and able to contend against operators, the democracy bargain in the Nigerian electricity market will remain deficient.”
“We are proposing the establishment of a consumer advocacy organisation that can easily build technical and political capability to effectively contend against other organised interests in the market.
“It is believed that the cooperation will encourage investment and lead to transparent, open and competitive electricity market,” Amadi said.