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21.01.2011 Business & Finance

ECG Acquires More Pre-Paid Meters - With Anti-Theft Features

By Naa Lamiley Bentil - Daily Graphic
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The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) has acquired 10,000 prepaid meters with features to enable the company to monitor any attempt by consumers to tamper with the running of the meters.

The move, according to the Director of Customer Services at the ECG, Dr Nicholas Kwabena Smart-Yeboah, was to minimise fraud and improve the revenue generation capacity of the company.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, Dr Smart-Yeboah explained that with the new prepaid meters, accredited officials of the ECG would be able to detect, even from their offices, when a meter was being tampered with by a customer.

He hinted that 80,000 more of the special prepaid meters were expected at the end of this year.

He said last year, the ECG recorded more than 30 cases of fraud related to the adjustment of its prepaid meters, adding that the culprits were made to pay six times what they consumed every month to serve as a deterrent.

Most of them, he stated, were surprised when the ECG told them of their crime, since they least expected the company to detect it.

Dr Smart-Yeboah explained that some of the old prepaid meters also had limited anti-tampering features which could only detect any tampering when the meter was read by an ECG official or at the vending points.

Prepaid meters were first introduced in April 1994 and, according to Dr Smart-Yeboah, the system had significantly improved the company’s revenue base.

“The ECG no longer spends so much to read, prepare and distribute bills and that is helping us save and invest to improve the quality of our service,” he said.

The ECG now has 520,000 customers on the prepaid meters, with 235 private vending points spread across the country.

Contrary to public outcry over the inadequacy of the vending points, which sometimes resulted in long queues in some areas, Dr Smart-Yeboah explained that the number was sufficient to serve all customers and that by world standards, 2,000 customers required a single vending point.

That notwithstanding, he said, the company was working towards getting an additional 45 vending points in the next six weeks to bring its services closer to members of the public.

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