BPC: new power payment channels successful

Botswana Power Corporation says new payment channels such as the internet and mobile have improved service delivery and customer satisfaction in Botswana.

The Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has largely achieved its pre-paid electricity project’s objective of improving accessibility and bringing services closer to the customers, says BPC marketing and communications manager Spencer Moreri.

Moreri said customers were able to use various channels such as the internet, cell phones, point of sale (PoS), ATMs to buy electricity “no more travelling long distances or queuing at BPC offices.”

“There are 35 additional villages, which never had vending points or PoS, which now have access to the facility. This acknowledges that BPC also had isolated challenges like during load shedding period,” he added.

The rollout of the pre-paid electricity project started in June 2012, converting all domestic and small business customers in urban areas from postpaid to pre-paid.

The project was also meant to improve accessibility, offer convenience, reduce billing queries as well as improve customer satisfaction. The initial phase of the project, BPC marketing and communications manager said, was the house to house conversion, followed by the mop up exercise and the closure or disconnection.

He said the pilot phase took place in December 2011 and was only in Gaborone at Maruapula and Block 6, whilst the initial phase took place in June 2013 and the mop up phase in September 2013.

Both the initial phase and the mop up phases, he said, were completed as per deadline.  However, he added: “we continue to meet some challenges as some customers were still resistant to be converted, some households are vacant, and in some there is no access due to locked gates.”

During the implementation of this project, Moreri said, BPC came across various challenges in meeting the set deadlines. To address those challenges, he said, they embarked on call campaigns, notifications were sent through the press for revisits, and the last option of disconnection was still to be exercised.

So far, Moreri said, five towns, namely Lobatse, Jwaneng, Gaborone, including Mogoditshane, Francistown and Selebi-Phikwe, have been covered. However, he said, there was a small number of customers whose meters were still to be converted in all the areas.

The project as per plan, he said, was complete, “but we are now getting into a phase of disconnection for those customers who were resisting conversion."

Moreri appealed to customers who had not been converted to pre-paid to liaise with BPC offices to arrange to be converted and encouraged those who have made payment agreements to honor them. He said the tariffs for both the pre-paid and postpaid electricity were the same, adding that claims that pre-paid electricity was expensive were not true.  

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