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Webinar: What is the impact of using smart/pre-paid domestic electricity meters?



Evidence on the impacts on consumption, reducing utility revenue losses and improving quality of service in developing countries of using smart/pre-paid domestic electricity meters

Fiscal challenges pervade the electricity sector in developing countries. Non-technical losses, which include electricity theft and bill non-payment, cost utilities an estimated $96 billion per year worldwide, with nearly a quarter of those losses ($23.2 billion) occurring in India alone. Electricity services are essential but low quality and unreliable electricity services are common in many developing countries, reducing the economic benefits from grid connections. When the quality of services delivered is poor, consumers may resist paying for those services. Low bill payment and high theft mean the electricity utilities have lower cost recovery and less to invest in infrastructure maintenance, modernization, and technical upgrades.  Insufficient infrastructure investment perpetuates poor quality service, instigating a downward cycle of poor quality services and low cost recovery.

A case is often made for smart and / or prepaid meters as part of a utility strategy to reduce non-technical losses, improve cost recovery and thus provide the investment necessary to improve services.  

This webinar drew on research carried out in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kyrgyzstan, India and Pakistan to examine:

  • The evidence around the effectiveness of this strategy

  • Insights on whether the use of pre-paid meters or post-paid smart meters produces different results

  • The impact of the introduction of smart and / or prepaid meters on consumer behaviour, including evidence of whether usage drops or changes and whether this is good or bad for poor consumers.

  • The political economy challenges of introducing pre-paid or smart meters