In a bid to improve service delivery at the distribution side of the electricity value chain, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has launched a power outage reporting app for the Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) and their customers.
The App which was launched on Monday in Abuja, would enable the customers to report power supply disruptions in their areas for prompt responses from the DisCos.
The App which was funded and developed by the NERC was handed over to the DisCos after the launch with the hope that it would resolve the existing disharmony between the DisCos and their customers.
Speaking at the launch, the NERC Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Engr. Sanusi Garba said, the App would assist the Regulator to monitor the DisCos’s compliance with the set standards in the recently launched Consumer Protection Regulation.
“You could recall that we recently launched a new consumer protection regulation that provides timelines within which public utilities, and especially distribution companies (DisCos), are required to resolve complaints by customers. This particular app that we have launched today is supposed to assist the commission in monitoring that DisCos are complying with the standards set out in that regulation,” he said.
Engr. Garba said, Abuja was chosen as pilot, assuring that there would be a national rollout across other DisCos.
“We decided to start this launch with Abuja and there will be a national rollout for all the distribution companies.
“AEDC is like a guinea pig for the app but we’ll quickly extradite the rollout to other distribution companies but obviously the DisCos where we are having the highest level of complaints will be ranked higher in terms of the rollout.
“I encourage everybody to download the App and lay your complaint and somebody in the commission will be monitoring to see that the distribution company has attended to the complaint”, Engr. Garba added.
Also speaking, the Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (DisCos), Mr. Christopher Ezeafulukwe said, the bar has been raised by the commission with the launch of the app to facilitate a more reassuring engagements between the DisCos and their customers.
Mr. Ezeafulukwe who said, the features of the App were user friendly, assured that the App would improve the AEDC engagements with the customers.
The AEDC boss said, the App was a product of collaboration between NERC and AEDC, therefore, would be a win-win for everyone.
“The app we are about to launch today is a product of collaboration. And because it’s a product of collaboration between the Commission and the distribution company, and eventually the customers, it then implies that it’s going to be a win-win for all of us”, he said.
He thanked the regulator for choosing AEDC as pilot for the project,
Earlier, while speaking on the functionality of the App, the NERC Commissioner, Consumer Affairs, Aisha Mahmud said, a lot went into developing the App because customers’ data was extracted from different DisCos.
The visibly elated Aisha said, when the project was conceived, the initial idea was to make it a 100 percent NERC project, that is for the project to be developed, managed, operated, implemented, maintained and monitored by the commission.
But, she said, “somewhere along the way, we believe that even though we have the technical expertise and the competent to run this project and implement it, we did hope that the distribution companies own the customers and when it comes to the issue of outages, the DisCos will be able to manage the issue of outages more than the commission, so based on that we decided to tag them along the project”.
Aisha said, the commission over the years has developed and come up with several initiatives all to make sure that customers are satisfied, get value for money and get the services that they truly deserve from the distribution company.
Therefore, “the power outage reporting system is one of those initiatives developed by the commission just to make sure that our customers are well-protected,” she said.
On how to report an outage, she said, customers should download the App from Apple or Google Play Store and input their meter numbers to lodge a complaint.
“If you have a complaint, what you need to do is download the app, input your meter number and then after that, log in with your complaint, The app will automatically send a confirmation to the customer on that particular feeder of yours by notifying if there is really an outage.
“If there is, then we need about two to three customers to confirm that there’s an outage on that particular feeder. As soon as they confirm that, the App will send the confirmation to the DisCos with a resolution timeline and as soon as the DisCo resolves this complaint, then the DisCo will update the app saying We’ve resolved this complaint and the app will automatically send another confirmation request to those customers on that particular feeder,” she said.
She urged electricity customers, especially AEDC Customers to utilise the App by reporting power outage.