Rationale Part II: A Misdiagnosis of Non-payment and Electricity Theft

Njabulo Kambule, Nnamdi Nwulu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores the nature of the relationship between prepaid electricity meters and poor households in the Sub-Saharan Africa household sector. At the centre of this chapter is a discussion of two themes that we find to be the epicentre of the motivation towards the deployment of prepaid electricity meters. The first driver pertains to the challenge of non-payment of electricity services by households. Moreover, the inability of the utilities to disconnect supplies to non-paying customers, as governments maintained long lists of strategic consumers to which supplies could not be disconnected and zealous local politicians went on adding to this list a number of local industries to protect local jobs and the local economy at the expense of the energy firms. The second driver to the introduction is the need to reduce electricity theft which has pushed authorities to introduce the technology. But we find that this has not been effective. For example Mozambique, South Africa, and Nigeria continue to suffer annual losses of about $100 million, $1.5 billion, and $54 billion on electricity theft, respectively. We argue that the technology will remain ineffective in addressing the two drivers because the strategies governing deployment are utility centred and not contextual to the socio-economic conditions. We, therefore, propose a holistic prepaid electricity meter framework that can facilitate the development of technology policies that are relevant and effective for the conditions in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLecture Notes in Electrical Engineering
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Electrical Engineering
ISSN (Print)1876-1100
ISSN (Electronic)1876-1119


  • Disconnection
  • Electricity theft
  • Households
  • Non-payment
  • Prepaid electricity meters
  • Sub-Saharan Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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