You must already have
electricity, (normally you will receive a
must receive your electricity from
Eskom. If you receive your
electricity from a local supply authority
or a municipality, Eskom can unfortunately
not give you a prepayment meter. In that
case you will have to approach your local
supply authority. Many other supply
authorities now also provide prepayment
meters but since they purchase the
electricity in bulk from Eskom and then
distribute it as they wish, Eskom cannot
dictate whether a third party provides
prepayment or an alternative system.
If you currently receive an
electricity account, the supply authority
details will be on it. It should
have the name of the supply authority on
the account. It should also have a
physical address and telephone
number where you can enquire about this.
- Eskom is not
installing three-phase prepayment meters any
more, so unfortunately it is not at the
moment possible for Eskom to provide a
three-phase prepayment supply.
If you have a prepayment meter, you will
have to buy your electricity from a
prepayment vending agent that sells
electricity for Eskom customers.
Luckily there are now several vendors
throughout South Africa and it is also
possible to purchase electricity via your
cell phone or internet.
above conditions are met, Eskom can usually
provide you with a prepayment meter.
Look on your account for the contact details
and get in touch with your local Eskom office
or phone the Eskom National Call centre to
enquire about the possibility of getting a
prepayment meter. The Call Centre
numbers are on the main Eskom
do not have any electricity yet, you can also
contact the Eskom National Call Centre.
However there are many requirements and
possibly some limitations for new
installations, especially in remote rural
does not normally provide more than one
installation per dwelling but some customers
would like additional meters for tenants,
flats or holiday camps/homes to enable them to
charge occupants for their individual
electricity usage. In this case you will
have to purchase your own prepayment meters
directly from the meter manufacturers and also
arrange to get pre-coded electricity tokens
from the same manufacturer.
You will then have to arrange with
an electrician to install these meters for you
on your own reticulations system in the house
behind your existing meter. The
prepayment meter will not replace your
existing meter and Eskom will still use your
existing meter for your electricity
will not be able to purchase your electricity
tokens from Eskom for this new meter and you
must arrange with the meter manufacturer to
also provide you with a number of pre-coded
electricity tokens for selected amounts. You
can then use or sell these pre-coded tokens to
tenants as required.
necessarily. Eskom has many different
tariffs for various consumers depending on
their electricity consumption and other
needs. Most residential customers with
billed meters (not prepayment) pay a large
initial installation cost to get
electricity. (This initial cost covers
part of the cost for the electricity network
like the cables, poles, transformers etc.)
These customers then also pay a fixed
monthly amount in addition to the actual
energy portion that is consumed. Because
of these additional amounts, the charge per
unit of electricity is lower. For
prepayment electricity you only pay for the
energy consumed but at a somewhat higher rate.
consume little electricity per month a
prepayment meter will be more cost effective.
However if you use average or higher
electricity, the conventional tariffs will be
that an electric water heater (i.e. a geyser)
consumes about 40% to 70% of an average small
customer's energy. Also visit the Eskom web
page for more information about saving
are however other advantages to prepayment:
the prepayment meter provides a continuous
display of how much electricity you have
left and also a flashing light showing how
fast you are using electricity, many
customers find it much easier to budget
their electricity usage and to actually
customers do not understand the accounts
for the billed system or how the amounts
are calculated. With the prepayment
system you can be sure you will get a
Rand's worth of electricity for every Rand
have a prepayment meter you should also have a
plastic meter card that you received with your
prepayment meter. This card looks like a
bank card and it will be dark blue with the
Eskom logo on if you receive electricity from
Eskom. If your card looks different, you
probably receive electricity from someone
of the receipts/tokens that you receive when
buying electricity should also have the words
written on it, to indicate that the token was
generated by the Eskom server for an Eskom
receive a monthly bill, it should have the
supply authority's name and contact details on
must report the problem to your local Eskom
office or contact the Eskom National Call
centre to report the fault. The Call
Centre numbers are on the main Eskom web
visit the main Eskom
site if you have general questions about
electricity like electricity generation or
distribution. They also provide
information via e.mail requests if the
information is not available already, (address
available on that page).
visit this same page for information about
appliances, saving electricity, safety and
has a central Online Vending Server (OVS) to
sell electricity directly to Vending Agents.
Tenders for Vending Agents are typically
issues every three- to five- years, but a
vending agent is required to develop their own
Vending Clients that can communicate to the
Eskom server via the standard XMLVend
protocol. There is then a lengthy evaluation
process to evaluate the tenders and select the
most appropriate candidates. Such a contract
is usually for a National Agency or a Regional
Agency to sell electricity on Eskom's behalf.
The latest enquiry was issued in 2014.
- If you want to sell
electricity for Eskom as an Eskom Agent, it is
necessary to participate sucessfully in the
next national enquiry for Vending Agencies.
- If you only want
to sell electricity in a specific area or in
your town, you can immediately contact any
existing National or Regional Vendors
and enquire to become a vending outlet for
them. They will often also provide you with
all the necessary equipment to sell
want to sell online vending systems to
the answer above
this document on XMLVend
this document on XMLVend
have a totally new way to sell electricity
has made a policy decision that they will only
use STS based prepayment meters. This was
based on many man-years of analysis, testing
and enhancements and while Eskom is always
looking for ways to improve the system, they
must be based on STS meters.
is also collaborating with the SABS and the
International Electrotechnical Commission
(IEC) to develop new functionality for
STS that will support smart meters and
your proposed solution includes different or
radically enhanced meters (e.g. remote vending
to meters) then it falls into the category
termed "remote metering" In this case
look at the question: I
have a new metering solution. You will
probably be interested in the second half of
the answer about advanced metering solutions.
only want to improve the vending side of
prepayment have a look at the question: I
want to sell electricity for Eskom
this did not cover your specific request, contact
the Prepayment Development Department to
arrange for further discussion.
installs a vast number of meters every year
and follows a strict tender process and
evaluation to limit the risks inherent in such
a large project. Tenders for new
prepayment meters are usually issued every
three- to five- years. The basic
specifications for the prepayment meters are
available in the Specifications
section. Please note that compliance to the
specifications do not guarantee any orders
from Eskom. All the tenders will be evaluated
and some of these suppliers may receive
not necessarily use the same criteria as Eskom
but in practice often purchase meters that
comply to the similar specifications as
required by Eskom.
want to introduce any new technologies (like
remote metering or "smart" metering) that are
unproven in the Eskom environment, the process to evaluate new
technologies would apply.
For both the above
scenarios, and if you believe you will comply
with the requirements in the referenced
the Control Technologies representatives to
discuss the subject.
has more than 4.2 million prepaid meters
installed presently. Eskom is not the only
regional domestic electricity supplier, many
of the larger cities and towns have their own
electricity departments who are also
installing prepayment meters.
is still continuing to electrify further
areas in South Africa which fall outside the
municipal supply boundaries as well as some
additional installations in areas that have
already been electrified.
ask the various meter suppliers directly for
their meter costs.
that the meter is only a small component of
the complete installation cost.
Africa does have areas where extreme heat is
experienced. Some meters have been installed
in semi-desert areas. Eskom requires and
test that the meters operate correctly for
extended periods at 55°C (131°F) and 75%RH.
suppliers all have ISO 9001 certification.
meters are shipped pre-calibrated and tested.
As the devices have electronic measurement and
control circuitry, transport damage is not a
major issue. Some of our areas have 100%
incoming meter inspection and others none.
Generally where the supplier’s internal
quality assurance has proved to be effective
we have stopped incoming meter testing. We do
perform random testing of meters coming off
the suppliers’ production lines. The out of
box failure rate is therefore very low.
South Africa we have a major impact from
lightning. Eskom has had to raise the
initially specified surge withstand capability
of the meters as well as install special surge
arrestors within all our meters. The situation
was compared to putting a microprocessor out
in the field with a 3 kilometer lightning
conductor. Currently the STS meters from all
the approved manufacturers perform to a very
is as a means of direct budgeting, bringing
the time between payment (purchase) and use
(consumption) to as short an interval as
possible. This allows the customer to relate
usage to the amount of money required. Finding
some money for electricity at the required
time of consumption could then be related by
the customer to other expenditure such as food
and household goods.
newly electrified customers are predominantly
poor. Consumption is averaging less than
100kWh per household per month in poor areas.
These customers do experience cash-flow
problems, especially where the use-payment
cycle of billed systems was averaging 90 days.
Prepayment stops a customer from going into
debt as it provides automatic credit control -
as opposed to the billed system where the
utility has to do this itself - manually.
intent is to make an electricity supply
affordable as well as remove the issue of
deposit management. The tariff used is a
single rate energy based tariff - allowing
customers to easily relate usage and money as
well as supporting the marketing of Eskom’s
product, electricity. The customer can compare
the cost of the electricity token directly
with another energy carrying item such as a
bottle of paraffin.
situations of political protest, social
pressure, township unrest and crime, reading
the meters of billed customers also
became difficult. Prepayment removed this
the status in 1987/88, i.e. that the operation
of billed electricity systems in poor
communities had become extremely difficult,
Eskom took a bold decision to get local
industry to develop ‘no-frills’ prepayment
metering systems which could resolve the
- withholding of
payment for electricity
- difficult or
very remote access to meters for meter
- customers that
do not understand, trust or cannot always
afford the fixed monthly portion of a
- bad or
non-existent postage systems in many rural
- no formal
addresses for rural customers and
- the need to
charge large up-front connection fees
costing studies are now showing that
prepayment is proving a more cost effective
option of system operation than billed
systems, for Eskom.
have been researching customer attitudes
towards prepayment since 1990.
the newly electrified customers the access to
electricity is the most important. As the
consumer becomes more sophisticated in their
use of electricity their focus turns toward
product availability. It is here that the
availability of the Point-of-Sale, where
prepaid tokens are sold, and the inconvenience
of having to go and purchase tokens become
important issues. Eskom addresses this by
making many options available to purchase
meters are installed only after
consultation with and in agreement by
the community to be electrified. Eskom
is careful not to promote prepayment as a
solution for theft or to punish customers.
retrofitting has been done it has been
accepted by the customers.
serves the whole of South Africa (surface area
1 221 037 square kilometers or 470 000 square
miles) as the supplier of bulk electricity.
the domestic market Eskom supplies customers
directly in most areas falling outside the
major cities and towns who have their own
does not solve electricity theft by default
but it provides a supply authority with the
means of managing theft. The best method
of controlling theft is still proper
management of the system. Eskom analyses
the consumption and purchase patterns of
customers and site visits are performed if
anomalies are detected. Eskom also has a
strict procedure to prosecute trespassers.
provides the following functions to help
trust prepayment because:
- There are no
fixed monthly charges or reconnection fees.
(The customers do not understand why they
have to pay this)
- There is a
continuous display of the available credit
which allows the customer to budget and it
eliminates surprises like a large account at
the end of the month.
- All the money
paid is for the customer's electricity and
not used to subsidise other services like
Vending system provides information on
customer usage patterns which can be used to
possible to determine how much electricity has
been sold to a geographical area so that
statistical meters can be used to correlate
the consumption per area.
are designed such that theft is easily
detectable but checks must be performed
regularly and corrective actions initiated
you had to do it all over again, would you
still decide to go prepayment metering?
Eskom has recently developed a new very low
energy supply. As part of the
development various systems were piloted and
analysed, including billed, flat rate and a
remote controlled flat rate. Prepayment
still turned out to be the most cost effective
system while still providing the customer with
a value for money product.
For a detailed description please
look at SANS1524-0 (Obtainable from the SABS.) Many of
the acronyms can also be found in the General
have found that such detection is difficult to
manage and provide little benefit. If
tamper detection is used, the meter also
enters into tamper mode when maintenance
personnel opens it to test or correct a
fault. The technician must then obtain a
token from the vending machine to clear the
tamper condition before the meter can operate
again. This process is complex and very
difficult to control for such a large
case, if a meter is tampered to obtain free
electricity, it will be easy to bypass the
whole meter, whether it is in a tampered state
instead rely on proper sealing of meters with
very strict procedures in place and the meters
are designed such that all tamper will be
easily visible to allow prosecution of
tamper detection will be useful if the meter
can transmit the alarm signal (in real time)
to a remote station and remain easily
manageable, reliable and cost effective.
advantages of disposable tokens are that they
are very cheap to produce (a few cents) while
reusable tokens like smart cards are relative
expensive. If a reusable token is lost,
it will take long to replace and will be
expensive as the infrastructure required to
replace such tokens does not exist in the
remote electrification areas.
disadvantage of disposable tokens is that you
cannot easily transfer more than one
token to the meter. This feature is
useful if you have complex tariffs or want to
configure the meter automatically when the
customer inserts the token. Eskom
currently does not have complex prepaid
tariffs that require this functionality.
information on the reusable token is not
always a large benefit since a customer that
tampers with the meter will in any case not
bring the token back to buy electricity.
communication to meters to load credit
remotely (i.e. virtual tokens) and to read
meter status already exist and is supported in
the STS standard. The biggest problem with
this option is that reliable and affordable
communication to every meter, is not yet
possible for many of Eskom's supply areas.