HomeFeatures/AnalysisExclusive interview with Petrus Van Heerden, Country Manager, Kamstrup A/S

Exclusive interview with Petrus Van Heerden, Country Manager, Kamstrup A/S

Petrus_van_HeerdenCan we start with a breakdown of the kind of work that Kamstrup does in the power and utilities sector across the continent?
Kamstrup is a world leading supplier of intelligent metering solutions and is active with both electricity and water utilities on the African continent. We have delivered successful projects in Ghana and South Africa.

The success of the roll-outs of intelligent electricity meters in these areas over the last three years is evidence that smart meters are the most efficient solution to address the issues of constrained electricity supply, the reduction in non-technical losses and improved customer service. New pilot projects are being rolled out in many countries where there is a need for better management of the supply and protection of revenue.

Currently, Kamstrup is involved in a water metering project together with the WWF in South Africa and will soon be piloting an intelligent metering project being implemented by Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company, which operates in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. Kamstrup is also working in water metering projects in Ghana and Nigeria where the customers are ready to invest in order to benefit from the intelligent water metering solutions.

Our ultrasonic technology requires less maintenance and enables customers and utilities to manage their water resources better. Kamstrup intelligent water meters with near real-time, accurate, reliable readings provide the utilities with the necessary information to make smart business decisions based on valid data that can help to protect existing revenues and create opportunities for better customer service.

Are there any specific projects that you are particularly excited about currently that you share?
In partnership with NURI Telecom, we have supplied the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) with 100.000 innovative prepayment smart meters and an automated meter reading system. These solutions are helping ECG to greatly reduce its energy and revenue losses. ECG had been struggling with customers tampering with its meters or bypassing the meters to prevent registration of the actual consumption, resulting in a huge loss of revenue.

By installing an automated meter reading system, ECG can now monitor the meters in the field and detect possible fraud at an early stage. Furthermore, the introduction of prepaid meters addressed ECG’s challenge of customers not paying their bills.

The prepayment system requires customers to pay in advance which ensures that ECG receives payment for exactly what it supplies. This system also benefits customers as it makes it easy for them to keep track of their energy use and how much they’re spending. ECG has reported that the detailed picture of daily usage, that the smart meters provide, is helping customers to change their consumption habits and reduce their energy usage.

In your view, what are the main challenges to the energy sector in Africa?
The challenges in the African energy sector are well known and constantly discussed: challenges like supply and demand not balancing, inadequate funding for new generation capacity, aged infrastructure, illegal access and non-payment of electricity. Providing solutions to solve these challenges is our focus at Kamstrup.

Some of the challenges we try to alleviate include the protection of revenue by minimizing non-technical losses, demand side management to try and balance the supply and demand during critical periods on the grid and providing information to both the utility and the consumer in a timely manner resulting in a change of behaviour to optimise energy consumption.

The increasing demand for electricity threatens the electricity supply, it leads to outages and forces the electricity suppliers to introduce controlled load shed programmes. Intelligent metering solutions can contribute to improved energy management and help to alleviate these issues.

Non-revenue water is also an issue. In South Africa for example, water loss through leakage, unauthorized consumption and unmetered / unbilled consumption represents more than 35% of the country’s total water supply. Kamstrup’s intelligent water meters not only provide accurate readings but can detect leaks, bursts and tampering to ensure water loss is detected quickly. They can also measure extremely low flows so that the consumption of every single litre of water is accurately registered and billed.

What is your vision for this industry?
We foresee an increased number of changes impacting the utilities and smart metering as government changes legislation and understands the potential of smart metering. In this environment we seek to provide solutions that are more flexible, future proof and yet provide the highest levels of security.

We believe that every utility is unique and requires solutions that are tailored to their needs. Kamstrup is set up to do just that, our full automated production ensures the same high quality regardless of the size of the order, whether it’s 80 meters or 800,000. The software in our meters can be upgraded remotely and today we work with a number of partners that constructively push us to develop more open and interoperable solutions.

We see a huge potential for synergies across the energy sector as renewables represent a larger share of the energy production that can be utilized by sharing part of the data from intelligent metering solutions – allowing demand response management in a completely different level to what we see today.

Smart cities will evolve and the strategies for establishing IoT networks will vary a lot in the coming 10 years, most likely without alignment on one standard or one technical solution. Intelligent metering will be a vital part of the smart city solutions. The winners will be those that have solutions that are flexible, reliable and secure.

Kamstrup is a silver sponsor at African Utility Week this year – why do you partner with us? 
We have solutions that can help African utilities to meet the challenges they are facing and thereby provide new possibilities for the communities they serve. The silver sponsorship gives us the possibility to present both our offering and what utilities can expect from selecting a Danish innovation leader as their intelligent metering partner.

The African Utility Week represents a unique platform for Kamstrup to reach the South African utility sector.

What will be your message at the event?
How intelligent metering secures revenue and improves asset management

You also made a specific decision to sponsor the African Utility Week Industry Awards since its inception three years ago and will do so again this year –  Why this decision and how was the experience last year?
There is some hype around the awards, but also a very important point is that it focuses on achievements – on how utilities are part of the solutions to the challenges the communities in Africa are facing. Of course Kamstrup is proud to be associated with a best in class award, but just as important is that we send an important message to the stakeholders on what is required to be world class.

We have sponsored the event for several years, and find that we get optimum exposure and improved awareness to our brand.

Ashley Theron
Ashley Theron-Ord is based in Cape Town, South Africa at Clarion Events-Africa. She is the Senior Content Producer across media brands including ESI Africa, Smart Energy International, Power Engineering International and Mining Review Africa.