The Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) is working on phasing out post-paid meters and install pre-paid ones to solve the challenges that arise due meter reading and billing by the utility company as well as timely settlement of bills by customers.
Disclosing this to the press in Lilongwe on Thursday, Escom acting senior customer service manager Overton Kaponda said most customers complain when they get bills. He said to solve the problem once and for all, there is need to migrate to the pre-paid system.
Kaponda could, however, not disclose how much the project is going to cost but said that it will be funded by the utility company.
According to Kaponda, starting from the 2011/2012 financial year, Escom plans to change 45 000 meters every year for four years.
“Even as Escom, we also have challenges when it comes to the cost of meter reading and billing and because of this we made an initial conversion of 5 000 post-paid accounts to prepaid, but the figure has now reached 42 000,” said Kaponda.
On the challenges the company is facing to effect new connections, Kaponda said the cost of materials bought by the company for a new connection is much bigger than fees paid by customers.
“The average cost of a connection is around K75 000 (about $449) whereas the customer is only asked to pay about K27 000 (about $167). This puts us at a disadvantage because the more customers apply, the more it is a challenge to fully fund the project,” said Kaponda.
He also added that due to delays in connecting new customers, other unscrupulous individuals have resorted to engaging illegal contractors to connect electricity for them which has resulted in Escom property being vandalised.
“But we are trying our best to meet customersâ€™ expectations and despite the current economic tough times, we hope we will manage to give our customers what they require,” said Kaponda.