Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has said the meter migration project to replace post-paid with pre-paid meters, which started in October 2015, will be completed by end December 2016.
Apart from replacing post-paid meters with prepaid ones, the project will also replace conventional pre-paid meters with split meters and also repositioning the split meters from the meter box on the customers’ premises to pole top enclosures away from the customers’ premises.
Escom public relations manager Kitty Chingota said in an e-mailed response to a questionnaire last week that so far, the project has been implemented in some parts of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Salima, Mwanza, Zomba, Mulanje, Phalombe, Chiradzulu, Ntcheu, Nkhotakota, Likoma/Chizumulu Islands and Mzuzu.
“We first piloted the project in October 2015. We briefly stopped for review. Having gathered lessons from the pilot phase, we have now rolled out the project in full scale. We plan to complete the project by the end of this year,” she said.
Chingota said currently, the power supplier is visiting individual customer premises doing the work.
She said: “The meter migration project will benefit the customer in a number of ways. For one thing, the customers will no longer face disconnections of power supply due to non-payment of electricity bills.
“The customers will also be able to control and manage their electricity usage as they will be buying electricity based on what they need. On top of that, customers will be able to transfer electricity units when moving from one house to another and they will also be able to buy electricity units at any time that is convenient to them.”
Chingota said, among the reasons for implementing the project, Escom wanted to improve revenue collection and minimise bad debts as customers pay before using the electricity as well as reduce billing queries which are common with post-paid meters.
She said the split metering arrangement ensures security of the meter and minimises chances of meter by-passes and tampering, but said customers with outstanding bills in their post-paid meters will still be expected to settle these bills when migrating the meters.
Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito earlier said the use of pre-paid meters is ideal for consumers in terms of planning.
He said this will also reduce conflicts between the power supplier and customers on the authenticity of the bills.