Resource-based Technology Innovation in South Africa: Prepaid Metering Technology – Systemic Innovation in the South African Energy Sector

by ILIEV, I. , 2005
Human Sciences Research Council report prepared for the Department of Science and Technology by the EEPR Unit October 2005

In1989 Eskom embarked on an ambitious programme for the electrification of over 1 million households in previously disadvantaged communities. The socio economic conditions in these areas made the use of existing technology credit-based metering difficult and expensive: the targeted consumer base generally had no access to banking, postal or other infrastructure, was engaged in the informal employment sector, and was subject to high levels of crime. Eskom identified Pre Paid Metering (PPM) technology as away of mitigating the impact of these problems on the costs and administration of the electrification. The chapter begins by a brief overview of the various components of the PPM technology. I then provide an outline of the different phases of the PPM industry’s history. This is followed by a discussion of several aspects of the PPM industry’s development, including the institutional environment within which the industry developed the role of inherited capabilities from the military and communications sectors, the role of strategic alliance leader in paradigm changing innovations, and the role of Multinational entry in South Africa’s PPM industry. A brief discussion of the methodology used in this case study is followed by some concluding remarks