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  Archive: October 22, 2018
It is such a great news for Bangladesh’s power sector that we are going to set up a smart pre-payment meter manufacturing plant in the country. The plant is expected to start production from January 2019. On October 21, West Zone Power Distribution Company Ltd (WZPDCL) and Chinese Hexing Electrical Company Ltd has signed a joint venture agreement to set up a manufacturing unit in Bangladesh under the name and style as ‘Bangladesh Smart Electrical Company Limited (BSECL)’ for manufacturing smart prepaid meters. Indeed it’s a memorable day for WZPDCL, because with signing of this contract we have stepped forward to manufacture a product which is one of the key elements for all power distribution entities. WZPDCL is a 100% government owned electricity distribution company under Bangladesh Power Development Board responsible for operation, maintenance and development of electricity distribution system in south western zone of the country consisting 21 districts and 20 upazillas. Presently it provides electricity supply to almost 1.1 million consumers covering Khulna and Barisal divisions and greater Faridpur district. On the other hand, Hexing is a Chinese origin smart prepayment meter manufacturing company having three production factories in China while their annual sell is around 20 million metering devices. They have supply record of more than three million digital meters and 1.2 million pre-payment meters in Bangladesh. Apart from that Hexing is operating five overseas JVC or fully owned companies which are doing business smoothly. Bangladesh Smart Electrical Company is formed as a Joint Venture Company with 51% share owned by WZPDCL and 49% share held by Hexing.  It is the first of its kind in Bangladesh to manufacture smart prepayment meter under joint venture incorporating a state owned distribution utility with a foreign company. The factory will be set up in Khulna under WZPDCL area. Government is committed to enhance the quality of service to all citizen of the country and this can only be achieved through digital technology. That is why our Hon’ble Prime Minister has time and again reiterated for digital Bangladesh with a view to make the government service available to doorstep of people. Prepaid meter is introduced with this objective to enhance the customer service quality. We have seen that transparency in billing process is being ensured to a great extent through installing the prepaid meter at consumer premises by this time. Though initially customer satisfaction could be achieved partially with the prepaid meter due to certain limitation like inadequate vending facility and other technical issues, but new technology with smart pre-payment meter has removed almost all hassle by now. Consumer can now easily make payment of electricity bills from anywhere using different online payment gates including mobile apps. With this end in view sustainable development goals (SDGs) has set the target to replace 7.5 million existing electromechanical or digital post-paid meter with pre-paid meters within 2020 under 7th five year plan. Out of those target only 1.58 million pre-paid meters have been installed so far and needless to say all of those were imported from foreign countries. Moreover, at present total number of consumer in the country is around 31.10 million all of whom have to be brought under pre-paid meter as per government decision. So, we think that the country has great demand of prepaid meters now and also in future. Considering this facts and figures this joint venture company can play a pivotal role in fulfilling the demand of prepaid meter in the country. We want self reliance working along with foreign companies to upgrade our technology and development our human skill.  Obviously this JVC will save huge foreign currency needed for importing meters to achieve the SDG goal within the time frame set by the Government apart from that it will create the opportunity for foreign direct investment (FDI), job opportunity to many people of the country thus alleviating poverty level, transfer latest technology to the country, constant up gradation of technology, sharing research and development with foreign counterpart. All the most consumers of our country will get the meter in cheap price than the imported ones with added advantage of after sale service which is not being possible in case of importing the meters. The JVC will also export the meters besides meeting the requirement within the country which will pave the way for earning foreign currency. However, the greatest challenge before the JVC is initially marketing the product in the country. Government is always kind enough to support the entrepreneur in this regard for which 7.86% GDP growth in the country has been possible. We hope this JVC will likewise get government patronization to sell their product. We also seek cooperation from all distribution utilities, particularly the head of the entities who may procure their meter from this JVC with all added advantage. Of course we are committed to maintain quality of the product as well as price competitiveness in order to get the support from all quarters. We expect government would do its best to save guard the interest of the country as a whole. Last but not the least this smart meter company will play an important role to implement the Vision-2021 policy of the government to make Digital Bangladesh for which the government Hon`ble Minister of Power Ministry, all executing agency in power sector are relentlessly working for realizing Sonar Bangla our father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman dreamt of with the blessing of all we are hopeful to achieve that goal.  Md Shafique Uddin, is an engineer and Managing Director of West Zone Power Distribution Company Ltd.  
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