Met 79% of target in first month
The new Unified Utility Billing System has accomplished 79 percent of the registration of its clients in one month to be included in the new system. The system, which aims to improve the water, electric and telephone bill payment system, originally created some confusion in the first two weeks of its launching a month ago. “The confusion and long lines that have been observed at places where payments are carried out in the first two weeks has been fully sorted out and utility payments by the majority of our clients is being conducted in an orderly fashion,” stated Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD), Minister of Communication and Information Technology (MoCIT) and Minister for financial clusters with the rank of Deputy Prime Minister. The Minister said this during a press conference held on Monday, March 4 2013 at MoCIT, the ministry responsible for the implementation of the new billing system.
The ‘Single Window’ service initiative enables easy access to government services and is cohesive as well as convenient. Service has been provided to 291,000 (79 percent) water utility clients from a total of 368,000 in the city. From 348,000 electric power utility customers 308,000 were also given service in the first month. Telecom payment services, which commenced three weeks after the new system was launched, provided service to 66,000 clients from a total of 350,000. According to the Minister, from both water and electric utility customers 599,000 or 79 percent were provided with service.
According to Dr. Debretsion, clients will be able to settle all their payments with the electric payment time frame already set by the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo). There are 32 new branches, including the Haya Hulet branch, which opened on March 5, and there are plans to increase the branches to 41. Previously, utility payments were limited to six hours a day, on average, at the various electric, water and telephone payment sites around the city. According to Yemisrach Banti, the communications manager of Kifiya Financial Technology, the new system branches remains open and provide service 11 hours a day.
The 225 counters set up to introduce the enhanced payment system when operations commenced a month ago, has been increased to 272, to cope with the long queues that started forming at the branches in the beginning. Yemisrach told Capital that the number of counters will increase considerably as planned new sites open their doors to clients. When the new system commenced, it had the capacity to provide service to 10, 000 customers per day, but on the fourth week this number had grown to 40,000 per day, said Dr. Debretsion.
The new automated billing system project was carried out by the ministry through an agreement with Global Communication Solutions (GCS), a local prominent IT company and its partners, the US-based NCR and AT&T. The project was implemented in February and aims to modernize the bill collection system of the state utility providers, Ethio Telecom (ET), Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCo) and the Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority (AAWSA).
The service introduced five weeks ago, has been designed on the public-private partnership platform between MoCIT and a private company named Kifiya Financial Technology, a sister firm of GCS.
GCS is mandated to build, own and operate the utility bill collection centers and transfer it to the concerned governmental institutions after three years.
According to the initial plan, the first phase of the system was to start operations using 45 service stations in Addis Ababa and in the second phase to expand its operations to Adama, Bahir Dar, Hawassa and Mekele.