Africa & Middle East
12 May 2014

Electricity meters: African market to grow 234pc by 2024

Sub-Saharan Africa's electricity metering market will see the fastest growth of any region in the world over the next decade, predicts US research organisation Northeast Group.

The total market will reach 63.3 million electricity meters and its value will grow 234 per cnt to US$9.9 billion cumulatively by 2024.

African countries' high GDP growth rates, ambitious electrification programs and progressive deployments of prepaid metering will drive the market, according to the new study published by Northeast Group.

Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group, commented on the findings: "Metering is critical for the future of Africa's utilities and those without access to electricity.

"Nearly US$300 billion of investment is needed to bring electricity to those in Africa currently lacking it.

He added: “Utilities cannot build out and maintain electric infrastructure if they are unable to meter and collect revenue from customers. Metering is a prerequisite for utilities across the continent to achieve financial sustainability."

Funding for Africa's power sector will come from a combination of local utilities, multilateral organisations, and bilateral aid.

Most notably, the US government's Power Africa initiative, launched in 2013, has promised over US$7 billion in funding for electricity projects on the continent, with additional private sector funding.

More effective metering and revenue collection will ensure that these investments are sustainable over the long term.

Prepayment systems

Prepaid meters will make up the majority of the metering market by 2020.

These function in an analogous way to prepaid mobile phones. Both utilities and customers benefit from prepaid metering.

"After mobile phones, electricity metering is the next big prepaid market in Africa," said Gardner.

"Utilities use prepaid metering to improve their revenue collection so they can invest in their infrastructure to improve its reliability. Consumers also benefit through greater awareness of their electricity usage, more accurate bills and the ability to budget more effectively."

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