Existing literature strongly and consistently reports the high upfront cost of energy technology hardware as one of the main demand-side barriers to increased use of modern energy services by the poor.
Existing literature also shows that lack of control over monthly bills and unawareness of consumption levels lead to inefficient and sometimes insufficient electricity consumption patterns by the poor.
Innovative technologies drawing from existing power metering and mobile payment technologies are now targeting the barriers of affordability and financial sustainability of electricity provision to the poor by allowing fee-for-services and rent-to-buy schemes for the sale of electricity, tariffs related to actual consumption, consumers’ control of their electricity bills and suppliers’ more efficient collection of payments.
Real time monitoring (RTM) of on-grid electricity consumption has a long history, with prepaid meters being used in several developed and developing countries. However, new mobile technologies are enabling their use in off-grid systems, including both mini-grids and mobile household systems.