Today’s LBO Choices column was the second to be based on LIRNEasia’s 2012-14 inclusive information society research. The basic idea was to see how ICTs could be used to improve the customer experience in important government or government-sanctioned service delivery activities. Other questions included what lessons could be learned from the mobile success story for other government services.
When LIRNEasia conducted quantitative and qualitative research on poor micro entrepreneurs in Colombo and secondary cities in Wayamba, it was clear that there was significant interest in managing their energy bills. Sixty one percent had already changed to energy-efficient lighting; over 15 percent were switching off/disconnecting appliance and lights.
There was significant concern about bill shock. People wanted more information about their consumption; after the fact, at the end of the month, was not enough. For people with income that varied by the day, having enough money to pay the bill in the specific window provided by the electricity distribution company was a problem. They wanted to know how much they owed so they could manage their consumption better.
LIRNEasia has proposed a number of solutions to address these concerns to CEB, LECO and the Public Utility Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL). One that deserves broad discussion is the provision of prepaid meters as an option.