In compliance with new international requirements for transfer of electricity prepayment tokens, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) will from June 1 launch a Token Identifier (TID) project that will reconfigure all customers' meters.
Announcing the development on Tuesday in Blantyre, ESCOM's Chief Operations Officer, Maxwell Mulimakwenda emphasised that every country in the world is being required to carry out this system upgrade, saying the last operation was done in 1993.
He said TID has a lifespan of 31.9 years and the current security lifespan will expire on November 24, 2024 -- thus ESCOM rolling out the exercise well in advance in order to service all of its 537,000 prepaid meters on the network.
From June 1, customers should expect to receive three once-off tokens once they replenish their units and the first two will indicate 20 digits as change tokens and the third will be the normal electricity units.
Meanwhile, Mulimakwenda also emphasized that customers "must load into their meters all tokens of units bought prior to the TID rollover before entering the the key change tokens" as failure to do the configured TID rollover shall reject those unused units and that ESCOM shall not be liable to this rejection.
"Customers must ensure that their meter is reconfigured by entering the Key Change Tokens in the rightful order as advised on the receipt slip of the notification SMS from Mpamba, Airtel Money or Bank accounts.
"After successful completion of the Key Change process, customers will thereafter continue to receive one token for units that will be purchased," he said.
He further explained that ESCOM's prepaid meters use a secure communication protocol to transfer information from the point of sale (POS) vending point to the energy meter which is call Standard Transfer Specification, saying the "20-digit token that customers receive has inbuilt unique security code thus named as Token Identifier -- which is time stamped".
"After 24th November 2024, meters that have not been rolled over will not accept any new token and that the next TID rollover process will take place in 2045."
Mulimakwenda also announced that the rollout process will be done in a controlled program to run concurrently in all the four regions of the South, East, Central and North -- starting with the cities of Blantyre, Zomba, Lilongwe and Mzuzu before servicing the rest of the districts.
In each of the cities and districts, the project will run by location and follow detailed schedule that will be published in advance and that customer sensitization will be run throughout using print, audio, television and social media.
Further, a dedicated ESCOM field personnel will be expected to attend to customers experiencing challenges the process and that a dedicated helpline will be available and published in all the four regions -- and Mulimakwenda implored on the customers to "strictly report TID issues and not normal faults".
This TID helpline will be available throughout the project period from 07:00hrs to 17:00hrs -- Monday to Sunday.