South Africa

Mystery around ‘secret funder’ of Eskom’s R16 billion smart meter project

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa is promoting a country-wide smart meter rollout, which will cost R16 billion, but secrecy surrounds how the project will be funded.

Eskom has been promoting demand-side management (DSM) through smart meters to limit electricity use during peak times.

Former Eskom chairman Mpho Makwana explained that demand side management will help to limit load-shedding in the short term.

Smart meters will limit the electricity supply to households and force people to switch off their geysers and home appliances when supply is low.

Eskom’s group executive of distribution, Monde Bala, said deploying smart meters is a key enabler to demand side management.

Using smart meters, Eskom and municipalities can do load management and load-shifting, reducing pressure on the grid during peak time.

Ramokgopa said they want to install a smart meter in every South African household, which is set to cost R16 billion and take four years.

He added that a “major financier” will partner with the government to facilitate the rollout of the smart meters and provide financing for poorer households.

The Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) shadow minister of electricity, Samantha Graham-Maré, said mystery surrounds the project’s funder.

There are many unanswered questions, including who is getting the tender and how much the meters cost.

“The who project is shrouded in secrecy. I submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act request to the office of the Minister of Electricity about the rollout,” she said.

“I requested a record of the decision, including the minutes of any meetings in which this decision had been taken”. 

She said the documents needed to reflect the pricing of this strategy, the preferred service provider, and the name of the “secret” funder.

“We are concerned that there are more questions than answers around the smart meters programme,” she said.

“Ramokgopa refuses to provide the answers to the questions that we have asked, which raises the question – who is benefitting from this programme and by how much?” she said.


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