The Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) received a communique submitted by some citizens against the North Delta Electricity Distribution Company, in which they complained about the monopoly of the sale of electricity meters at double its actual worth.
Some believe that the electricity distribution companies, which follow the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company, are inherently outside the scope of the competition protection law, which is not consistent with the CPA law. The agency cleared the confusion, where its authority extends over all sectors that engage in economic activity, regardless of whether it is a public or private sector, or a local or foreign entity, as long as it operates on Egyptian soil. It pointed out that the only thing outside the CPA law are the public utilities, which are directly managed by the state only, such as railways.
In the light of the information reached by the CPA’s working team, through communicating with the Egyptian Electric Utility & Consumer Protection Regulatory Agency and asking the nine electricity distribution companies, they reported lack of any legal obligation to provide consumers with meters from distribution companies only. The CPA hence has stated that six distribution companies are in violation with the Article 8 of the consumer protection Law.
CPA noted that these companies have a dominant position in the electricity distribution market, which does not commensurate with the exclusive jurisdiction of these companies according to the geographical scope specified for them, thus constituting a violation on its own. Yet, these companies exploited this dominant situation and linked the provision electric feed to obtaining the meter from the company. This, according to CPA, is contrary to the law of competition protection in the absence of any legal obligation for that.
CPA pointed out that this practice would harm the competition in the electricity meter production market on the one hand, and would harm the citizen who loses their freedom to buy the electricity meter from any place that provides the devices with the specifications determined by the EETC by obligating clients to buy the meter only through the distribution companies at the price they specified.
The Board of Directors of the CPA decided to grant the infringing companies 30 days to adjust their situation and remove the violation through some administrative measures, which included publishing a declaration in a wide spread newspaper stating that the practices of the previous distribution companies were stopped and allowing clients to buy the meters from anywhere as long as they meet the standards and specification.
The meter must be calibrated at the expense of the consumer in order to ensure its safety and suitability. The advertising has also to be made in a clear line within the distribution companies to inform the consumers with the offers presented to them in the installation of meters and indicating the procedures to be followed and the calibration offices authorized by the company.
CPA coordinated with the Egyptian Electric Utility & Consumer Protection Regulatory Agency on this complaint and notified it with the case and its recommendation, most important of which is the need to work to increase the citizen’s awareness of the choices available to them regarding the installation of meters.