National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) needs more than Shs1.8 trillion if it is to migrate all its 600,000 customers to a prepaid water metering system.
Speaking during the 24th annual seminar of certified public accountants in Entebbe, Dr Silver Mugisha, the NWSC managing director, said prepaid water metres cannot be rolled out entirely in the country because it would be very costly to the final consumer.
“The cost of buying a prepaid water metre is about Shs3m. A normal metre is, I think about Shs60,855. The issue is how do we replace all the normal metres with prepaid meters? We have 600,000 multiply by Shs3m. If that is the money, who will pay for it, will it be through the tariff or a donation?” he wondered.
Essentially, it would cost more than the 2019 budget allocation to the agricultural sector for customers to have prepaid water metres.
The cost of one prepaid water metre is about 10 times the cost of an electricity metre, which ranges between $50 (Shs182,215) and $90 (Shs327,987) depending on the supplier, according to Mr Selestino Babungi, the Umeme managing director.
Umeme has in the last five years been implementing the prepaid metering system, migrating some of its customers from post to prepay.
Most of Umeme’s new connections are implemented under the prepaid metring system.
Dr Mugisha said that apart from the cost installation and migrating customers there are other attendant costs such as maintenance, which would also require the water agency to put in place a specialised, would lead to an increase in cost of water.
While the metres can be acquired in Uganda, prepaid metres, he said, require software which is not developed locally.
Currently, NWSC is working on a plan for its engineers to advance an invention for a software and the circuit system such that the country can set up its own prepaid metres without creating a heavy burden on consumers.
NWSC has already installed prepaid metres in water theft spots and low earning areas such as Kawempe, Bwaise, Kisenyi and government institutions such police barracks.
“I do not know whether Nsambya Police Barracks is in supply but the prepaid meters had cut them off,” he said.
He was responding to a query from one of the accountants at the seminar organised by ICPAU under the theme; “Financial Management for sustainability.”
NWSC seeking to develop own pre-paid metering system
According to Mugisha, NWSC is seeking to develop its own pre-paid metering system instead of spending money on imports. “Our IT team recently developed an internal billing system and the corporation saved a lot of money. The team has started working on various innovations to ensure that the technology is rolled out. This will save us money to invest in service delivery projects” he said. NWSC, in it’s 2018-2021 corporate plan also is planning to set up a local metre assembling pant to reduce delays that are experienced while importing water meters. The corporation will also develop partnerships in the production of pellets and bio fuel through sewage sludge reuse.