Research from a survey conducted for customers in selected Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) business districts has found widespread inadequacy in the reliability of the electricity supply to households and businesses in the area. Insufficient electricity supply stunts the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises, limiting the creation of employment opportunities for the large unemployed and underemployed population in Nigeria. This, in turn, has implications for tackling insecurity in areas such as the Niger Delta, and boosting regional and national growth and development. Whilst this survey and report are limited to the operations, and operating area, of the BEDC, many of the problems highlighted here are indicative of those experienced across Nigeria.
• At present, 40% of those interviewed are not receiving any electricity at all due to grid failure in the area.
• Half of those who do get electricity have it for less than four hours a day.
• Three quarters of those interviewed do not feel that they are treated as a valued customer by BEDC.
• In the last year, 50% of respondents have been asked for monetary gratifications by BEDC officials to fix faulty facilities and restore power.
1. BEDC should work closely with its customers to increase understanding of its services, billing and metering systems, and the importance of taking stewardship over its facilities to curtail vandalization and boost grid supply.
2. Improve customer service and communication to build trust between BEDC and its customers, and improve the complaints system so that issues are resolved quickly. The BEDC existing customer service system is saddled with limitations such as poor customer services and relations; and complaints response time. BEDC should endeavour to incorporate into their communications strategy the characteristics and preferences of customers in reaching out to them for prompt resolution of issues and improved service delivery. For example, with regards to customer feedback channels, the BEDC should revamp its online platforms – website, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to enable it provide real time response to consumer complaints/inquiry.
3. Price electricity fairly so that customers are likely to be more willing to pay for the electricity that they receive. Electricity price must be seen to be fair to customers, especially those whose bills are based on estimation. There is also need for effective implementation of the billing system introduced by BEDC – the Electricity Billing Management System (EBMS)
4. Tackle corruption and electricity theft by introducing anti-bribery and anti-corruption policies at BEDC and making this part of training for new and existing members of staff. This should include communicating messages to communities about the dangers of tapping lines and how it makes power less reliable and lower quality, the help in tackling electricity theft.