Reducing Wastage in Nigeria, the role of ICT in Metrics, Data and Accountability

Nigeria is a blessed country. We have a lot of things in abundance. In fact, we are the classic illustration of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner: 

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

Information Technology is a very useful tool, to bring some level of accountability into our daily lives, using metrics, data gathering and analyses.

I have decided to address two areas of waste, and how metrics from data gathered using ICT can help ameliorate the daily losses we incur as a Nation. Specifically,  I want to address Electricity Distribution and Petroleum Subsidy.

Electricity Distribution

Given that the legacy PHCN has been un-bundled into Generating Companies (Gencos), Transmission Companies (Trancos) and Distribution Companies (Discos), and the introduction of the Multi-Year Traffic Order (MYTO) by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the hapless consumers of electricity are the ones who suffer the butt of “Pay, even if you consumed nothing!”.

With prepaid meters now in use, consumers may not get billed for electricity not consumed, but the rates charged consumers are not fixed, because consumers must pay for the electricity distributed, even if not consumed by them. The ability to track the availability of electricity and what is consumed is still vague right now, at least in a transparent manner.

The proposal is to equip every electricity meter, Service transformer, Power Station, and transmission station with GPRS-enabled equipment that can log power availability and consumption to a central point for further data analyses. Such devices will not be difficult to fabricate in many of our Universities offering Electronics and Communications Technology as courses.

Now, if 20 consumers are connected to a single transformer, it will be easy to know where leakages are coming from, because the cumulative power consumed by those users should add up, or close to the egress power from such a transformer. Consumers pay for meters, and consumers will be happy to pay for such devices, in exchange for stable power.

Simple solution, that will give Discos the power to analyze the data on the performance of the grid, track the leakages in their network,and also give them the ability to supply power to the consumers that pay their bills more. Ultimately and within a short time, the consumers will benefit.


Petroleum Subsidy

Subsidy is good. Subsidy is required. Subsidy will help the real sector develop quicker. Though Nigeria is a major producer of crude oil, it gets stolen, so those who really need the subsidy to be productive, do not get to have the subsidy.

How much PMS is consumed daily in Nigeria? This is not a difficult question to answer with technology.

We export all the crude that we produce and then Import all the fuel that we consume. Government has failed to run any venture for service, talk-less of profit. As we continue to wait for private local refineries to take off within the country, Technology and process now exists, that will make it possible to track the flow of oil right from importation to consumption.

The proposal is to equip all petroleum dispensing pumps with GPRS enabled-devices that logs the data for each purchase from the pump to some central system. This large data can then be analyzed for trends and patterns. At the end of the day, it will be possible to calculate the amount of fuel sold by each fuel station, and know the exact amount of fuel consumed in the country.

We can do this by various parameters, for example, how much fuel is consumed in each geopolitical zones, or indeed the distribution of fueling stations. Big data that is generated, will be analyzed to forecast consumption and other patterns. The data can be aggregated as needed to make projections.

We can now pay subsidy on consumption and not on importation. If we import, the ships will not be diverted at high seas, as already explained by Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.


These are two small areas where wastage can be plugged and consumers can immediately realize the benefit from the subsidies and reductions that the government always gives,

These are not expensive solutions, that will make the lives of the citizens better, and keep crimes off the street. How will this be funded?  The solutions can be setup at cheaper rates that the installation of surveillance cameras to keep crime off our streets. The fueling stations will happily pay because they will now get the fuel at the real price. I am not even thinking of SURE-P! 

God has blessed Nigeria, but it is more appropriate to wish that … The blessings get to Nigerians!

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