The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on Monday launched an application platform to monitor power disruption across the country.
The commission launched the app at its headquarters in Abuja.
The app ‘Power Outage Reporting System (PORS)’, according to the commission, is an online initiative to make the complaint resolution process easier and faster for its customers.
Speaking at the launch Monday, Aisha Mahmud, NERC’s commissioner of consumer affairs, said the launch using Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) as a pilot was in partnership with the distribution companies (DisCos).
She said the intention of commissioning the app was within a few months ago but unfortunately due to a few bottlenecks that the commission faced around the way, it couldn’t commission it earlier than Monday.
“But today, I’m super excited that it’s happening today. When this project was constituted, the initial idea was to make it a 100 per cent NERC project,” she said.
“For the project to be developed, managed, operated, implemented, maintained and monitored by the commission but 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.
“We handed it over to the distribution companies for implementation and operation.”
She said NERC will continue to carry out the oversight function of the app and will continue to monitor it and make sure that it works properly and appropriately.
“So, as all of you know, 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.
“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 added.
She explained that the PORS has a multi-channel approach to obtain a lot of data from customers in outages as well as hours of supply given to customers on each service band.
“It utilises a multi-channel approach. A lot of hard work and effort went into developing this app. We liaised with the different distribution companies and obtained a lot of data on their customers.
“So if you are a customer of a DisCo and you are being supplied by the DisCo, your information is already stored in that app.
“If you have a complaint on any outage, there are multiple channels. There is a web app and a mobile app, so you can download it on your phone through Apple or Google store. You just need your meter number,” she added.
Mahmud said if there is a complaint on any outage there are multiple channels that can be used to report the outage.
“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, adding that what the commission has done is to make the work of the DisCos much easier.
“Now, the customer can easily reach out to the DisCos and of course, we are trying to fulfil our regulatory obligation here to make sure that customers get the best service that they need.
“With this App that we are launching today, customers don’t have to walk or drive down to the distribution company to report an outage,” she added.
“As of today we are starting with pilot “Abuja as pilot” and we intend to extend it to all other DisCos within the next couple of months.
“I urge all customers of AEDC to please utilize this opportunity, make use of this App and report any case of outage if there is any. And know that the commission is here to protect you to make sure you get value for your money and get the services that you truly deserve from the distribution company,” she said.
Also speaking, Sanusi Garba, the commission chairman, said the app development is in line with the commission’s pledge to improve service delivery to customers.
“I think a lot of you can 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.
“So, 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,” Mr Garba said.
He explained that the app was originally designed for crowdsourcing data for service-based tariffs.
Crowdsourcing, he said, is like sampling the level of quality of supply that customers are experiencing.
He added that the commission decided that it was better to put smart intensity on all feeders to have 100 per cent live data to ensure that DisCos are truly complying with service obligations that are prescribed in the tariff order.
Garba encouraged citizens to channel their complaints through the app, assuring that prompt responses will increase their confidence in the commission and the DisCos.
“We are encouraging customers to go to the Google Play Store and Apple Store to download this application to help customers report disruption and supply in their area.
“We decided to start this launch with Abuja and there will be a national rollout for all the distribution companies. Such a massive application would require some test runs and so on.
“So, 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,” he added.
In his remark, Christopher Ezeafulukwe, AEDC managing director, applauded the commission for the app launch, saying it was a product of collaboration that would ensure a win-win scenario for all citizens.
“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 contract to provide to our customers.
“We are happy that the App that we are about to launch today is a product of collaboration and because it’s a product of collaboration within the commission, the distribution companies and eventually the customers it then implies that it’s going to be a win-win for all of us,” Mr Ezeafulukwe said.
On the part of the regulator, he said it’s already been said that greater oversight to ensure that value is not just created but sustained and protected.
“On the part of the distribution company, you can’t over-emphasize the fact that this will help actualise more database decisions on our part and we are looking forward to using this App to interact, engage and hear more from the customers and then, more importantly, use as a raw material to serve our customers better.
“On the part of the customers, it is also a win-win because as it has been said the features of this App are so user-friendly,” he said.
“The platform has been created and it is now for us to use it properly. There is a need for proper usage so that information and feedback that is being given is correct to optimism resources in addressing feedback through this App,” he added.