ECG receives $15.89m to improve revenue mobilisation

BY: Maclean Kwofi
Mr Andrew Egyapa Mercer (middle), a Deputy Energy Minister, assisted by Mr Steve Marma (right), Resident Country Director, Millennium Challenge Corporation, cutting a tape to open the new meter management system
Mr Andrew Egyapa Mercer (middle), a Deputy Energy Minister, assisted by Mr Steve Marma (right), Resident Country Director, Millennium Challenge Corporation, cutting a tape to open the new meter management system

The Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) has installed a $15.89-million modern revenue collection technology for the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).

Known as the meter management system (MMS), the technology will enable the ECG to reduce non-technical losses and improve on revenue collection.

The MiDA provided $11.19 million for the project under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) second compact with Ghana to improve the energy sector value chain, while the government contributed the rest of the funds.

The new MMS, which allows interoperability across different metering systems and manufacturers, would enable the ECG to reduce the cost of providing metering services.

The MMS also makes it easier for prepaid customers to purchase credit from anywhere within the power distributor’s operational areas, as opposed to the zonal arrangement that currently exists.

It will also provide timely information on how customers are using electricity and, most importantly, report faulty meters which are returning inaccurate billing or inform the ECG if a meter has been tampered with.

At a ceremony in Accra yesterday to hand over the system to the ECG, the Minister of Energy, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, observed that the most important policy decision of the government was to ensure a reduction in distribution losses and improvement in system reliability.

He said related to that objective was the continuous effort to support power distribution companies to modernise their metering infrastructure and data collection systems for enhanced revenue mobilisation.

“This policy decision is underpinned by some key challenges in the distribution sub-sector, which include high prevalence of poor or obsolete metering infrastructure, the lack of harmonisation in metering technologies on the part of ECG’s multiple suppliers, wrong billings — over-billing, under-billing, wrong customer data — all occasioned by near-obsolete meter management system,” the minister said.

Dr Prempeh identified other challenges as intermittent internet failures which frustrated prepaid metering vending operations, consumers suffering the inconvenience of the occasional long queues and delays when buying prepaid units and high commercial losses due to theft by some consumers who would rather bypass their energy meters owing to the inconveniences posed by those challenges.

Power compact

The Board Chairperson of MiDA, Professor Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu, in a speech read on her behalf, said the goal of the power compact was to reduce poverty through private sector-led economic growth.

She said one of the vehicles for achieving the goal was the ECG financial and operational turnaround (EFOT) project, meant to improve and sustain the ability of Ghana’s major electric utility company to provide reliable power to fuel economic growth.

“The mix of activities under the EFOT project is intended to reduce revenue losses and under-billing and ensure that the ECG recovers its operational costs and invests in maintenance and expansion, without additional financial support from the government.

“For this reason, the EFOT activity includes reduction in commercial losses and improvement in revenue collection rates, as a sub-activity,” Prof. Ntiamoa-Baidu said.

She said the MMS was an important and timely investment, at the request of the ECG, to assist it to reduce non-technical losses and improve its revenue collection rates.

It was a solution to current challenges with multiple meter types, procured from a variety of meter vendors, none of which could communicate with another, the MiDA Board Chairperson said.

One-stop-shop

The Board Chairman of the ECG, Mr Keli Gadzekpo, said the MMS was a one-stop-shop for effective monitoring and management of all the metering systems operated by the ECG.

He said with the new MMS, the company would be able to develop a good database for easy access to information.

“This move, we expect, will result in the reduction of financial losses and increase revenue for the company,” he said.