By Edward Francis Dalliah
The National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) held a press briefing on 24th October 2023 at their main office at Westfield to dispel public misconceptions surrounding the upgrades of their NAWEC Cash Power meters.
Speaking at the press conference, the Managing Director of NAWEC, Mr Nani Jawara revealed that “over 90% of [NAWEC’s] customers are all on pre-payment meters” which he says is a common practice globally “meant to help utilities secure their revenue”. He revealed that NAWEC has over 290,000 Cash Power meters that need to be upgraded.
According to Mr Jawara all countries that are part of the Standard Transfer Specification (STS) family, which The Gambia is part of have to be STS compliant. Mr Jawara added that the STS is “a standard that is within the pre-payment electricity software sector and all meters that are produced by any manufacturer must comply with this specification”.
He noted that upgrades are required to be performed periodically on NAWEC’s Cash Powers meters. More specifically he added that “the STS has notified all countries around the world that the tokens that are being used now that are generated by our vending systems will not be accepted by our meters by the 24th of November 2024 latest”.
This is the reason why they have to upgrade all the existing meters that are currently in the market to ensure that all the tokens will be accepted by the Cash Power meters. He stressed that new meters will not be required and the current Cash Power meters will not need replacement.
According to the NAWEC MD from 24th November 2024 tokens generated by vending machines will not be accepted by Cash Power meters if not updated according to the instructions stipulated by NAWEC.
According to Mr Jawara, the “process is very simple; we don’t have to go and replace your meters [or] you buy new meters”. He added that to ensure your Cash Power meters are STS compliant there are three tokens which users of NAWEC’s Cash Power meters must input.
NAWEC Project Manager, Mr Jobe explained how the rollover will be implemented. He noted that the first phase which has already started involves all NAWEC Staff who are to upgrade their meters as outlined below. The second phase he says is in the various regions of the country. The second phase will start with the North Bank Region followed by the Lower River Region, and Upper River Region, and then proceed to the Greater Banjul Area and the West Coast Region.
Below are the instructions according to the NAWEC MD.
- All “meter numbers are already registered with [NAWEC]; when we upgrade your meter numbers in the system, three tokens will be generated”. See the image of the sample Cash Power receipt for the three tokens which will be generated,
- The first two tokens are to upgrade your Cash Power meters. When users enter the first two tokens successfully their Cash Power meter will be updated but their credit will not be entered,
- The third token is the Cash Power units. When this token is entered successfully the Cash Power meter will register the amount of Cash power units entered. This is the final step which completes the process.
Misconceptions and Possible Fraud
According to the NAWEC MD, some people were confused when NAWEC started rolling out the first phase of the project by working with their own staff to pilot the project. A communication was sent out to NAWEC staff which he said was distorted. Mr Jawara explained that “our staff who are within are also going to act as Ambassadors for us”. In his narration, he revealed that the thinking behind the move to start with their staff was for them to also help other Cash Power customers upgrade their meters to ensure a hitch-free implementation of the project.
Highlighting that people should be aware of scammers who may be looking at exploiting their customers the NAWEC MD warned that “in every situation, some people want to take advantage. People can use this and start defrauding our customers. Be wary of these kinds of situations”.
Explaining how people can take advantage he noted that “people can use these kinds of situations and start defrauding you and make it as something that is complicated that you will need somebody’s help and you need to pay them to be able to do something for you. You don’t need to do that”. To address such instances the NAWEC MD added that customers should report all “NAWEC staff or a non-NAWEC staff” asking for “money to be able to support you to do this upgrade” to “the senior staff of NAWEC and if possible, report to 169”.