The Smart Meters Installation project by the Asian Development Bank is facing issues. Even with the $400 million funding provided by the ADB, the project faces a two year delay due to due to disputes over technology and a complex bidding processes.
Furthermore, since ADB is majorly responsible for the delay of $400 million Second Power Distribution Enhancement Programme, it has not included it in its list of problematic Projects.
The Causes of Delay
After initially pushing Pakistan to take a loan, ADB approved it in November 2015. However, according to sources, there was no financial or physical progress on the project until June 2017.
The documents for the loan itself was delayed by the authorities of ADB as well as the Pakistani government. The loan was signed in one year and was made effective in May after a further delay of 6 months.
Pakistan was not in favor of the loan due to its differences over the use of imported technology and the plan to privatize all power distribution companies under the $6.2 billion International Monetary Fund programme. The Pakistani authorities wasted significant time in giving the approval for the project.
The Planning Commission of Pakistan too, opposed the loan and regarded the project as technically unfeasible.
Aim of the Project
The project aims to introduce advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) in Pakistan’s different distribution companies (DISCOs).
The project will result in prepaid electricity meters that shall control the flow of electricity and help in ensuring 100% collection of bills.
By 2019, ADB aims to install 2 million smart meters and communication equipment. About 800,000 are to be installed in the jurisdiction of IESCO and 1.2 million in LESCO.
The second most important goal comprised of training the officers of data management systems to be set up in IESCO and LESCO . However no progress has been made in this regard.
The third goal is to improve monitoring procedures for theft detection by 2017 and update operation manuals. A consultant is yet to be hired for the purpose. However it is expected that the task will be achieved by the end of September.
The fourth target was introducing new billing systems in the targeted regions by 2017. For that, it is required to train 700 personnel on Billing System and CIS by 2019. However, the ADB approved the Master Bidding Document for the Project on 19 July.