Last week, I posed the question ‘Is Africa the next frontier for smart meters?’ Having spent three days at African Utility Week 2015 in Cape Town talking to African utilities, technology suppliers and regulators, the answer ranges from nearly to definitely.
It states the obvious to say Africa is a vast continent and each country’s electricity sector is unique but that is the case.
Zimbabwe, which is now tendering for 60,000 smart meters for its large-power users, is making all the right noises with a government-led smart grid blueprint and plans for a smart city, while Ugandan utility Umeme
is metering the majority of its customer base.
Industry experts were also talking excitedly about the emerging markets of Angola, Ethiopia and Kenya.
However, in Nigeria the metering gap still yawns wide and in South Africa, a Pretoria municipality last week admitted defeat on an a wide-scale smart meter rollout
So vendors that are building a local presence and know how to dance the steps of African business, as one advisor described, are well placed to participate in the smartening of the electricity, gas and water networks.
And other learnings from the show? I discovered that...
... some African utilities refer to meters as a ‘cash register’ and its protective structure as a ‘gun safe’.
... everyone’s talking about pre-educating customers before installing prepaid metering technology, but no-one is sure how to do it.
... African utility executives have vision with one prophesising the death of the electricity grid in favour of microgrids and battery storage
... communication technology is hindering the success of African smart meter rollouts
... the recent riots in Soweto over unpaid electricity bills ‘were a picnic’ compared to locals burning a fleet of 16 Eskom vehicles earlier in the year.
.... in China, 50-100 new manufacturers begin producing meters every year.
More from Metering.com
Smart metering communication company Sensus confirmed this week that it has entered the Australian market through a partnership with communications infrastructure company BAI. Sensus and BAI will offer a smart meter and communications solution using long range licensed radio that meets Australia's critical national infrastructure requirements, the companies said.
UK smart metering and lighting technology company Cyan confirmed on Wednesday that it has bolstered its entry into the South African market by signing a distribution deal with a local electrical contractor and implementing a proof of concept order.
US flow meter research company Flow Research confirmed this week it has secured approval from the US Patent and Trademark Office for a design targeted at large pipes. The Massachusetts-based company said founder Jesse Yoder had received a patent for a new dual tube flow meter that uses smaller, less expensive dual sensors that aim to measure flow more economically than larger sensors that have to cover the entire pipe.
Global industrial networking company Moxa has launched its new advanced solution for smarter grids and better peak load management. Moxa’s industrial Internet of Things (IoT) advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) solution provides high and low voltage, transparent and non-transparent applications.
In the US, the developer of the Navy Yard, a smart energy urban development in Philadelphia, has selected Landis+Gyr to supply smart meters, as well as its Gridstream communications network, MDM software and cloud-based services.
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