In response to the low electrification rate in Africa, countries are seeing significant investments in new generation. Therefore meter investment is inevitable, explains Harold Hayes, Chief Technical Officer, SA, Landis+Gyr who spoke to us at the African Utility Week.
Hayes points to Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania as the large markets for meters. Since revenue guarantee is essential, the meter industry is expecting a boom.
Prepaid smart meters will be the most popular as it gives customers access to the utility. Tampering and faults can also be picked up quickly and utilities can look forward to revenue security. “Having a prepaid meter on-line is a winning situation,” says Hayes.
Standardization of meters in Africa is going to be important, explains Hayes, since this will give utilities options when it comes to buying meters. Standards basically ensure that utilities are not tied to one supplier. Today, there are 120 companies that are represented on the Standard Transfer Specification, with 412 devices that can be bought by utilities around the world.
System interoperability can be costly and some utilities may be tempted to choose a product which is not interoperable, explains Hayes. Interoperability allows the customer to implement with very little effort. Hayes points out that utilities must be careful when choosing technology as it may lock them into using specific meters which may end up costing more than expected.
Hayes says that it is also important for utilities’ staff members to get involved with pilot projects from beginning to end. “Pilots will be most successful when utility staff members take ownership. Staff should be allocated to the pilot and they should even write their own reports on what can be achieved.”