The Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) has acquired a modern Meter Management System (MMS) for the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).
The equipment worth $12 million is the latest phase of a project designed to
integrate ECG’s Smart Pre-paid Metering Platforms and enhance the customer experience.
A statement issued by MiDA said when commissioned, customers of ECG who are connected to the system will have easy access to Pre-paid credit. The purchase will also be done in real-time.
The equipment was procured with funds provided by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an Agency of the United States Government, under Ghana
Power Compact Program.
The introduction of the electricity pre-paid metering in 1996 was done to deal with the challenges associated with the credit or postpaid metering system.
Prepaid meter benefits and problems
However, consumers complain that the prepaid electricity meters introduced by the ECG in 1996 to replace the post-paid metering system in most urban areas have benefited the utility provider (ECG) rather than its customers.
Research shows that only 30% of customers who use post-paid metering system pay willingly, while the remaining 70% will have to be informed through notices of bills, an announcement on radio and television, as well as public address system and finally the unpleasant tool of disconnection, before bills are settled.
One of the foremost benefits of the prepaid metering system is its ability to readily make available funds at the disposal of the utility supplier (ECG). Before the meters were introduced, the post-paid metering system was bedeviled with accounts receivable or low revenue collection.
Unfortunately, the prepaid metering system has not been smooth sailing despite the benefits that are associated with it. These challenges come in different forms ranging from customer care to technical challenges.
Intermittent Internet breakdowns have been one of the banes of the prepaid metering system. Anytime there is a breakdown in the Internet, connectivity customers will have to spend long hours at private-vending points and ECG revenue collection centres in long, winding queues. This occurrence leads to revenue loss and increases, among other things.
An end to ‘no network’ problem
However, MIDA indicates that there was a solution to the problem as “the Meter Management System will have full redundancy – a Primary Site and a Disaster Recovery Site – with an online real-time backup capability”.
“The days when customers could not buy Pre-paid Credit because a Pre-paid Server has failed will soon be behind ECG. The equipment, comprising 17 Servers in 6 racks, 40 Point-of-Sale devices, UPSs, laptops, printers, etc. have been delivered to two Sites; the ECG Project Office and the ECG Legon District Office,” the statement explained.
MiDA said the latest equipment will help boost revenue for ECG and provide flexibility for customers in purchasing electricity.
“The Software needed for a fully functioning Meter Management System was installed and tested prior to shipping the equipment to Ghana. ECG and MiDA’s Consultants took part in the Factory Acceptance Tests and have certified the System to be compliant with all the specifications.
“Starting this week, Messrs Siemens SA, the Contractor, will reassemble the System and commence Operational Acceptance Testing immediately. The System is expected to be operational at the beginning of the fourth quarter of this year,” MiDA said.
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