To complement recent digitalization shifts in agriculture, energy, and education, Egypt has begun to phase out some 28.8 million regular meters in favor of electronic prepaid meters. This is part of a move to increase efficiency in consumption monitoring, as well as reducing theft of electric currents and boosting the revenue aggregation process of the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC).
According to EEHC officials, changing the metering system removes the need for invoice billing, saving not just paper but manpower, with the prepaid system allowing the authorities to collect charges in advance. The consumer also gains by being able to monitor what they use, and are charged appropriately. With a card in their hands, consumers can control how much electricity they order and how they use what they get.
The Egyptian electricity and renewable energy ministry has been implementing the prepaid meters in stages since 2016, testing public reception with 2.5 million initial installations that year. That figure rose to 4.7 million in 2017, and 6.9 in 2018, with officials indicating they expect to have installed 9.1 million meters by the end of this year and some 20 million meters by 2021.
Installing 2 million meters per year, the ministry hopes to widen acceptance of the meter change by offering to replace faulty or malfunctioning installations at no cost to the consumer, as well as making the distribution companies assume responsibility for deliveries.
Of course, all these moves have an impact on the efficiency of Egypt’s national grid, with ministry spokesman Ayman Hamza telling Daily News Egypt this past week that the government was stepping up efforts to monitor thefts in the sector. Hamza said distribution companies had been instructed not to process coded electricity meters request since June 30th, as efforts are harmonized to stop illegal consumption of electricity.
Earlier this month, the ministry had kicked off a 14.9 percent increment in electricity prices, a last-minute attempt to rescue a deficit of up to LE 33.5 billion, accumulated from years of inefficiency in the electricity distribution system.
Spokesman Hamza said demand for the new metering system was rising because people are already recognizing the benefits of a simplified, digital process. Essentially, the prepaid metering system keeps both electricity suppliers and consumers honest. And it is the way to go.
By Caleb Ajinomoh