The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has hinted of plans by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to employ the use of Artificial Intelligence and Remote Sensors across its systems to fight the canker of power theft.
Speaking at the launch of a mobile application for ECG customers on Tuesday, 18th February 2020, Vice President Bawumia indicated that difficulties in collecting payment for power supplied and eliminating power theft were major challenges confronting ECG, and the use of Artificial Intelligence would be a major game-changer.
“The issue of solving the collection problem at ECG is a major part of solving the energy issue in Ghana. I think this app also enhances collection, but I am aware – because I have been talking to the Board Chairman and the MD – that they are thinking about applying technology, artificial intelligence and remote sensors in the collection process.
“I know that they are piloting the system now, and by the grace of God if all goes well, we will have implemented a new system, starting this year, whereby nobody will be able to steal electricity in Ghana again.
“It is major thing that the ECG is likely to implement this year, using artificial intelligence and remote sensing. They are piloting it right now, and the results look quite good. Once we solve that problem, the issue of losses from people doing ‘kuluulu’ connections of electricity will be a thing of the past.
The new app, known as ‘ECG Power’ and designed in-house by the ICT staff of ECG, will make it possible for 2.8 million out of the company’s 3.8 million customers to make payments for power purchased and services rendered by the Company. This figure is expected to rise by the end of the year when old meters are replaced with smart ones.
Users of smart phones can download the app from the Google play store or Apple App Store, create an account, add the meter number, and top up or pay bills using mobile money wallets. Users of Non-smart phones, popularly known as ‘Yam’ phones are not left out; they can dial *226# and follow the prompts to enjoy the service.
Vice President Bawumia expressed delight at the unveiling of the innovative application that will enhance the delivery of an essential public service to all ECG customers – from households, organizations, small businesses and industry.
“This is historic in the sense that the ECG for the first time in its long history is employing technology to tackle two major problems: first, improve on one of its critical functions of delivering power to its customers; and, second, address the more serious challenge of mobilizing its revenues from power delivery effectively and efficiently.
“With this new application, customers can now buy electricity credit from the comfort of their homes, anytime and anywhere. What is more, you can now buy credit for distressed family members and for acquaintances.
“All this is well in line with President Akufo-Addo’s vision to use digital technology to transform the economy of Ghana,” Vice President Bawumia stated. “The programme of Government which we are consistently delivering to Ghanaians is to use technology to bring about a total transformation of the way we go about our daily tasks, the way we do business, and the way we govern ourselves.”
While commending the Board, management and staff of ECG for effectively using the pilot period to iron out the kinks in the app, he urged them to take steps to provide the necessary support systems for efficient management of the Mobile App.
“There can be no excuse for systems failures, unreliability and inaccuracies,” he cautioned.
The Vice President expressed delight that the app had been developed by staff of ECG, saying “We as government believe in local solutions to tackling local problems and I want to express my congratulations to the team of ECG staff that developed this application. Like Oliver Twist, we look forward to more innovative and productivity enhancing measures to improve efficiency and in so doing reducing the cost of electricity to Ghanaians.”
There is doubt that this would be the greatest innovation to solving the problems within the power sector. Of course, we cannot wait to see the increase in revenue collections which may come following the removal of the power theft.
We pray that Allah Almighty help us in this regard.