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Clash of interests over meter contract

November 15, 2016 By Ibrahim Tarawallie

Deputy Minister of Energy has told a presser that management of the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) never had access to PEC revenue and metering management system, but management of PEC -Sierra Leone has denied the claim, saying they requested for EDSA to present three of their staff to be trained in order to have access to the system.

Following the unbundling of the defunct National Power Authority (NPA) in 2014, an expression of interest was advertised with the objective of the Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority (EDSA) to procure the service of a competent firm to conduct a pilot study and propose an Advance Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system for efficient and effective revenue collection.

PEC Sierra Leone, an indigenous entrepreneur was awarded the contract to carry out the pilot phase on the Advance Metering Infrastructure (AMI) for a period of six months.

It could be recalled that for the past several months, EDSA, Ministry of Energy and PEC Sierra Leone have been at loggerheads with regards issues relating to the installation of the smart meters.

During a press conference last Friday, Deputy Minister of Energy 1, Alhaji Hassan Barrie, stated that due to the refusal of PEC to give EDSA an access to their system, management was only dependent on whatever they fed them with, adding that such was unacceptable.

“Trying the AMI meters of PEC Sierra Leone was a good thing but they should have been compliant with the revenue management system of EDSA, so that they can see all transactions but that was never the case,” he said and added that management of EDSA was unable to know how many units of electricity were sold by PEC to the customers per month.

Mr. Barrie maintained that PEC was awarded the contract on an experimental basis and that the pilot phase was to know whether it would enhance revenue sale of electricity and minimise human inference, with the metering and revenue management system.

According to him, after the expiration of the pilot phase, an assessment of the success or failure and challenges of the metering and revenue management system should have been carried out with regards the possibility of a long term contract, but stated that such was never done.

“What PEC was doing was not integrated into the system of EDSA. EDSA was only seeing the monetary figure but were not privy as to how many units were generated. To us, we feel there is a room for foul play,” Mr. Barrie noted.

However, PEC Chief Executive Officer, Malador Sowe, yesterday stated that they requested EDSA to provide three names for them to be provided with access training on the system, but to no avail.

“During a meeting with EDSA on March 4 this year, it was agreed that they submit three names of their staff for us to give them access training so that they can view the system from their office for auditing purposes. But they didn’t submit any names to us even when we sent them a letter of reminder,” he claimed.

He explained that they started the installation of smart meters in December, 2015 and revealed that as at October this year, they succeeded in collecting over Le 7.7billion for EDSA.

As a way of discussing issues that may arise during the pilot phase of the project, Mr. Sowe said a smart pilot committee was formed with EDSA, which meets on a daily basis to discuss installation and other issues.

“It was EDSA who provided us with the list of customers we currently have on our system. It was agreed that after the expiration of the contract, there should be a review. We submitted a report to EDSA in July and we were expecting them to call us to a meeting for discussion after they would have looked at it, but that never happened,” he explained.

According to the PEC Sierra Leone chief, instead of responding to their report, they were informed that the ministry invited a company from Egypt to come and carry out an assessment on their meters without notifying them.

Mr. Sowe also revealed that the EDSA board invited them to a meeting in September to give the history about the project and that during the meeting, when the management was asked about their take on the overall assessment of the pilot phase of the project; they said they were satisfied with PEC’s operation.

He added that it was based on that appraisal the board asked them to submit a proposal to move on with the project on the long term, which they submitted few weeks later.

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