Kamata: The Invention to Stop Electricity Theft in Africa
Did you know that electricity theft is the United States’ third largest form of theft? I bet you didn’t. It can cost the U.S. on average of $6 billion annually.
What is Electricity Theft?
Electricity theft is just as it sounds; the stealing of electricity from the power companies. It can be in the form of physically and illegally tapping into the main power lines, or tampering/bypassing the electric meter that communicates the electricity consumption for billing purposes to the power companies.
Kamata: The Solution for Africa?
The problem of power theft is a portion of the electricity crisis that many African countries experience, along with poor and lacking infrastructure. Not only do many people in Africa have no access to electricity, but many can’t even afford it where there is access. Uganda’s number one power supplier experiences $30 million losses a year due to electricity theft. When theft occurs, the prices of electricity go up, which in turn leads to a lot of customers unable to afford the electricity.
For Eddie Aijuka, an electrical engineer who graduated from Makerere University, (Uganda’s largest college) it’s an issue so important to him, that he decided to invent Kamata. Eddie was one of the finalists for the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, a program designed for engineers in the sub-Saharan countries of Africa to submit projects for implementation with training, support, and financial backing to improve sub-Saharan Africa.
Meet Kamata: a device that is installed on the outside of the electric meter box to measure constant electricity flow. If any sort of disruption in electricity flow is detected, Kamata will shut off the power and alert the electric company. A disruption in electricity flow to the meter can indicate a customer has bypassed or tampered with the meter, which are sure signs that someone is trying to steal electricity. The power company will be the only one to restore the electricity again after Kamata has cut it off. 1,000 Kamata devices are said to be first implemented for Uganda’s largest power supplier, Umeme.
Since Kamata can fit onto all types of electric meters, and the software can be customized for different power companies, this may be a device that can solve one electricity theft issue; tampering of the meters. That still leaves the problem for those who try illegally tapping into the main lines themselves. Even so, this could definitely help for those in African countries who rig the meters, which is still a contributing factor in power theft and electricity price increases.