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September 20, 2018

‘Smart’ water meters use cloud storage, cut theft in Kakamega

Kakamega water, environment and natural resources CEC John Wangwe addressing Kakamega County Water and Sanitation Company staff after opening a modern customer care center at the company offices yesterday
Kakamega water, environment and natural resources CEC John Wangwe addressing Kakamega County Water and Sanitation Company staff after opening a modern customer care center at the company offices yesterday

The Kakamega County Water and Sanitation Company has adopted self-meter reading technology to minimise theft and manipulations in billing.
The Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) smart metering is on pilot in Kakamega town with plans to roll out the technology across the county in three months. Earthview Ltd is providing the services.
The technology will reduce the company’s cost of hiring meter readers and ensure accurate billing to end customers’ complaints.
“The new technology aims to expand water coverage, reduce non-revenue water through elimination of commercial losses and identification of pipe leaks and prioritisation of water savings investments to reduce costs,” Kacwasco managing director Fred Atwa said yesterday.
He spoke during the opening of a customer care centre at the company by the county Water executive John Wangwe.
The system sends readings of every meter to the company’s central billing system after a minimum of five minutes through the cloud storage via a transmitter installed at the Milimani water tank.
It is capable of reading meters within a 50km radius. It provides the GPS location of meters, hence, eliminating manipulation of readings.
The technology will cost the company Sh184 million to instal meters for all 23,000 clients. Each meter goes for Sh8,000.
The current manual meter costs Sh3,500. Earthview will receive 75 per cent of the improved revenue annually, while Kacwasco will receive 25 per cent until it fully recovers the costs of installing the technology.
Kakamega becomes the second county to instal the technology within the Lake Region Economic Bloc after Kisumu.
“With this technology, we’re going to have more of our staff at the modern customer care centre to respond to clients’ complaints in real time,” Atwa said.
Atwa said the new technology will help the company to reduce the non-revenue water from the current 42 per cent to 35 per cent.  
Non-revenue water is  that which has been produced but is lost before it reaches the customer.
The company experiences 306,439 cubic metres of water monthly at production and distribution losses of 1,709,934 cubic metres of water monthly. The new system will reduce this to less than 100,000 cubic metres of water and one million, respectively, Atwa said.
The technology is expected to double the county’s annual revenue from water from the current Sh253,859,000 in five years.
He said the company is in the process of forming a rural water company to oversee supply.
Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has announced his government will provide piped water to every household in the county in the next five years.

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