telegraph.co.uk

Following a period of hurdles around its prepaid meter rollout in Soweto last year June, South African state-owned power utility, Eskom, is seeing its efforts paying off.

Since the installation and conversion to split prepaid meters in Soweto, Johannesburg, the utility has recouped R39 million ($2.7 million) since its 2014/15 financial year until 30 June 2016, the power company reported in a statement.

In May 2015, the utility reported unpaid electricity bills totalling R4 billion ($278 million) in Soweto.

Revenue collection improves

The revenue collection levels for customers – including Large Power Users (LPU), Prepaid Power Users (PPU) and Small Power Users (SPU) and excluding bulk suppliers – are currently at 48%.

Soweto has approximately 181,000 direct Eskom customers, 65% of whom are customers who are on conventionally-billed metering system and the remainder are on conventional prepaid metering system.

To date the utility has installed over 41,628 split meters and converted 24,746 to prepaid and are planning to accelerate the rollout of prepaid meters in Soweto.

The conversions of the meters have also resulted in a gradual increase in sales, the utility explained.

With continued efforts focused around revenue protection, the utility is currently installing prepaid meters in Sandton, Midrand, Soweto, Kagiso and other areas around Gauteng.

Gauteng rollout

According to the parastatal. since March this year over 14,700 meters have been connected in Sandton and Midrand, with a total of 32,000 to be connected by March 2017.

Eskom explained that there are other added benefits of converting to prepaid including savings on meter reading, improved technical performance, reduced errors resulting from the need to bill the customer and better consumption control by the customer.

This technology eliminates the practice of bill estimation that inconveniences customers resulting in fluctuations in the bill and unhappiness with the customer’s account.