Background of the Study
Several developed and developing countries have tried to achieve sustainability in their power sectors in recent years. However, due to technical and administrative issues, some countries are confronted with various challenges in achieving sustainability objectives. Management of the continuously increasing demand for electricity has emerged among these issues as one of the major concerns for both developing and developed countries. The increased demand for electricity led to a deficit in supply-demand and led to several related issues (Asif & Muneer, 2007). This has affected the overall output of the electricity sector, especially in the case of developing countries. Literature indicates that the rise in energy demand is mostly attributed to higher household power use and non-technical losses at the end of the consumer (Karanfil & Li, 2015).
In addition to efficient electricity service supply, it is necessary for electricity consumers to precisely allocate energy costs based on actual usage. This is because inadequate metering or unreliable distribution of energy costs can have a major impact on consumer health, especially on low-income consumers. If the utilities overbill the amounts used (e.g. placing the same estimate for the usage of both, which may be at or above the overall average consumption) or appear to overbill the costs (i.e. putting a higher tariff than it is), so the most disadvantaged group would be the one (and most likely the poor) that mostly consume less power but whose energy expenses account for the largest share of electricity (Oseni, 2015).
Countries originally followed the traditional approach and concentrated only on rising power production to manage this growing market and to reduce the supply-demand gap. While the supply-demand gap was substantially reduced by this policy, it resulted in a considerable financial burden, especially for developing countries. The ineffectiveness of the traditional approach has led to the development of a revolutionary strategy focused on the concept of conservation and control of resources. Involving customers in regulating their purchase behavior was the primary goal of this approach. This imaginative approach has both technical and institutional implications. It involves the implementation of smart meters, distributed generation, prepaid metering, net metering, and energy-efficient appliances in the technical sector, while administratively it includes many awareness schemes aimed at informing customers about the related benefits of conservation and management of energy (Qazi et al. 2020).
Prepaid meters provide the potential for demand-side management to minimize electricity usage in residential buildings and thereby act as a way to increase the overall efficiency of the national grid. It provides consumers with direct input on electricity usage, thereby opening up the prospect of regulating electricity consumption by end-users. Many residential buildings run on analog meters in developing countries, leaving consumers no room for data feedback. This ineffective metering scheme discourages the effective use of electricity because users are unable to control their use of energy (Utazi & Obuka, 2014).
Consumers, who report feeling better at controlling household energy consumption after previously suffering 'bill shock' when an unusually high monthly arrears account is received, have received prepayment meters largely well (Anderson, White, & Finney, 2012). Although the environmental and household benefits of minimizing excessive energy usage are evident, low-income customers usually have less discretionary energy use (Colton, 2001), and there are some signs that consumers use prepayment metering to conduct much more extreme energy rationing activities than other low-fuel households (Anderson et al., 2012).