The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has officially released a new application that will report electricity outages, and reduce the response time of power Distribution Companies (Discos).
The power sector regulator said that apart from providing an avenue for quick resolution of complaints, it will also serve as a three-way interface between customers, Discos and NERC almost on a real-time basis.
During the launch of the pilot Power Outage Reporting System (PORS) at the NERC headquarters in Abuja, the Chairman, Mr Sanusi Garba, further explained that this will help in fast-tracking service delivery in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI).
Garba said that the commission had earlier launched a consumer protection regulation program that gives timelines which Discos are required to resolve customer complaints.
According to him, the inauguration of the application and its web-based version, will also help to monitor Discos’ compliance with the orders handed down by NERC.
He urged Nigerians, especially those in Abuja, as it will be the first franchise to experience the pilot programme before getting to other states of the nation to take advantage of the new app.
“This particular app we are launching today is supposed to assist the commission in monitoring Discos to actually comply with the standards set out in that regulation,” he stated.
Asides from the AEDC in Abuja, Garba noted that the expansion to other distribution companies will be determined by the amount of complaints each power utility receives.
“A lot of progress has been made in smart metering, but this app, we are encouraging customers to go to google play store and Apple store to download this application because it is supposed to help customers report disruptions to supply in their areas,” he added.
He noted that with the new app, Nigerians will no longer have to go to Discos’ service offices nationwide; noting that the app can be operated from the comfort of your home. He added that all that is needed to log in is the metre number or the Account Identification number of the customer.
Aisha Mahmud, the NERC’s Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, explained that the launch of the app was a collaborative effort between the regulator and the Discos and had been in the works for a while.
“A lot of hard work and efforts went into developing this app. We liaised with the different distribution companies and obtained a lot of data on their customers. So if you’re a customer of a Disco and you are being supplied by the Disco, your information is already stored in that app.
“The way it works is that if you have a complaint on any outage, there are multiple channels you can use to report this outage. There is a web app and a mobile app, so you can download it on your phone through Apple or Google store. You then go ahead and report. You just need your meter number.
“You download the app, you put your meter number and then after that, you log in your complaint and the app will automatically send a notification to the customers on that particular feeder of yours to find out if there is really an outage.
“If there is, then we need about two to three customers to confirm that there is an outage on that particular feeder.
“As soon as they confirm that, the app will send that confirmation to the Disco with a resolution timeline and as soon as the Disco resolves the complaint, then the Disco will update the app saying we’ve resolved this complaint and then the app will automatically send another confirmation request to those customers on that particular feeder,” she explained.
The Managing Director of AEDC, Christopher Ezeafulukwe, spoke and said the development would ensure a win-win sitiation for the Discos and the citizenry.
Describing customer feedback as essential ‘raw materials’ for better service delivery. Ezeafulukwe noted that it will assist in ensuring data-based decisions.
“I dare say feedback from our customers is actually for the distribution company, what I would call our feedstock. It is the raw material that we need to be able to deliver the services that we actually contract to provide.
“One big takeaway is that the app we’re about to launch is a product of collaboration between the commission, the distribution company and eventually the customers. It then implies that it’s going to be a win-win for all of us.
“On the part of the regulator, it’s already been said that it will be greater oversight and not just oversight for oversight sake but to ensure that value is not just being created but being sustained and protected.
“On the part of the distribution company, you can’t overemphasise the fact that this will actually help catalyse more data-based decisions on our part,” he concluded.