By Constance Athekame
The Association for Public Policy Analysis (APPA), a Civil Society Organisation, has called for the protection and education of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) on their rights to electricity supply to promote business.
Mr Princewill Okorie, the National Coordinator of APPA, made the call in Abuja at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) version of National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Electricity Consumers Protection Advocacy Programme.
The programme has the theme: “Developing and Promoting Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises operating in the Federal Capital Territory through exposition on Consumer Protection Component of Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005″.
Okorie, who is also the National Coordinator of MSME Electricity Consumer Protection, said that there was need to expose MSMEs to the consumer protection component of Electric Power Sector Reform ACT 2005.
He said that this would prevent unfair business practices which Distribution Companies (DisCos) perpetrate against consumers in the country.
He said that the programme which was in line with the vision and mission of Abuja Enterprises Agency and the National Policy of MSME would enable the entrepreneurs in FCT to know their right as electricity consumers.
He listed the rights to include billing, metering, fault repairs, connection, disconnection, complaints handling and resolutions.
According to him, knowledge of these rights and acquisition of skills and capacity to ensure their lawful implementation will enable MSMEs to escape, resist and seek redress against unfair business practices perpetrated against them by licenced distribution companies.
“The expected result of the advocacy shall include: application of the rule of law, protection of consumer rights of MSMEs, improved enforcement of regulatory policies on electricity protection,” he said.
He said this would lead to sanctions against Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) that violate consumers’ rights of MSMEs.
He added that the measures would enable MSMEs to save money, enjoy healthy customer relationship with DisCos and improve production and service delivery.
“This will improve the economy of FCTA as these MSMEs pay revenue, levies and taxes to the Area Councils and FCT administration to enhance availability of products and services for FCT residents,” he said.
In his keynote address, Mr Oluwale Fasanya, the Director-General, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), said that it was the agency’s responsibility to formulate policies to ensure the ease of doing business.
Fasanya, represented by FCT Director of SEMEDAN, Mrs Mary Kolawole, said that it was also the responsibility of the agency to ensure Nigeria’s MSMEs competitiveness in the global market.
He said that to ensure that small and business enterprises thrived in the country the agency was working with relevant stakeholders in both the public and private sectors.
According to him, the multiplier effect of high electricity tariff and poor supply on businesses are in no doubt very grievous as this will increase MSMEs production cost and reduce their competitiveness in the global market.
“Increase in capital requirement affects consumer consumption pattern and also encourage sharp practices among the consumers.
“To combat these menace, the agency is working closely with the public and private sector to advocate for the establishment of industrial development centres.”
He said it would also advocate for the implementation of the electricity consumer licences performances standard and follow up on MSMEs enlightenment programmes and advocacy.
Fasanya said that SMEDAN in a bid to establish credible data of MSMEs in the country was now undertaking the MSMEs mass registration project across the country.
“This data base will enhance evidence-based planning for wholesome development of the sub sector and all MSMEs are encouraged to register as there are numerous benefits to be derived from the exercise,” he said.
On her part, Mrs Janet Udo, Assistant Director, Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), said that the commission was ready to support the APPA to educate consumers in that sector to know their rights.
Udo said that the commission had supported consumers to know their rights and insist on their rights and demand for quality service.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Donald Ugwu