Prepaid meters and penetration within Southern Africa’s water sector


Peter Rodseth, managing director of Utility Systems, spoke with Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl, editor of ESI-Africa, our sister publication, to share his insights regarding water management and knowing what consumers want from African utilities.

During the interview, conducted at the African Utility Week held in Cape Town, South Africa recently, Rodseth said the biggest challenge being faced by cities in Africa is to curb high consumer demand.

He said cities including Cape Town need to increase consumer awareness regarding the effects of drought on water resources. Rodseth urged the city of Cape Town to invest more in technologies which allow consumers to access water usage data.

When asked about how prepaid meters help consumers enhance their water efficiency, he said the technology gives users insights on their daily consumption which can help them identify efficiency potentials.

He called for installation of smart meters and other water management technologies in households using excessive water to ensure they consume fair amounts of the precious and scarce resource.

With regards to adoption of prepaid meters on a global-scale, Rodseth said: “Prepayment is not a universally utilised or popular technology, consumers typically don’t want prepayment installed in their homes.

“Consumers are fearful of product or technology failure hence utilities need to educate consumers of the benefits of using the technology.”

However, he applauded utilities in Southern Africa for increasing investments in prepayment systems.

Countries including Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique and Zambia have recorded increases in revenue collection and curbed consumer wastage through the use of prepaid water meters, he said.

The technology allows consumers to pay for how much they use, a development which helps utilities to address non-revenue water.