Cape Town, South Africa --- (METERING.COM) --- May 30, 2007 –Metering, Billing/CRM Africa and International and South Africa Prepayment Weeks commence their formal proceedings today with a focus on ‘Beyond prepayment: The second wave of prepayment’.

With contributions from across the continent – from South Africa to Rwanda, Nigeria and Morocco – these illustrate the extent to which prepayment has expanded outside its original market and is becoming increasingly pervasive in Africa, as well as the range of its application in areas such as improving customer relations, revenue enhancement and as a tool for water demand management.

Some of these are major projects, such as that at the Office National de l’Electricité (ONE) in Morocco, which will be described by the company’s regional director, Imad Barrakad. The project, which is aimed at reducing the distribution cost per kilowatthour and improving the quality of service, has involved the deployment of 700,000 meters to date and a further one million meters are out for tender with deployment due by 2011.

In total Morocco has approximately 3.2 million customers, with the average monthly consumption ranging between 37 kWh in rural areas and 125 kWh in the urban areas.

Water is a controversial service when it comes to billing, with some maintaining that basic water provision should be a right rather than a paid-for service. But as Kathy Eales, programme manager in the City of Johannesburg’s Infrastructure and Services Department points out, household water metering has had a dramatic impact, with savings in parts of the City to date of over 44 million kl of water with a value in excess of $18 million.

“Johannesburg’s experience shows that metering and payment is not just about improving revenue and financial sustainability; volumetric tariffing provides a significant economic incentive to use water efficiently, and helps alert users to on-property leaks,” Eales says.

The City’s ‘free payment’ meters comprise prepayment meters which also dispense a free 6 kl allocation per household each month.

Also keenly awaited is the announcement of the winners of the annual prepayment innovation awards, which will be made at the end of today’s proceedings. “There have been some excellent entries, which has made the judging particularly challenging,” says Jonathan Spencer Jones, editor of Metering International.