Prepaid metre overhaul: Kenya picks August deadline

Utility Kenya Power has asked an estimated 7.4 million customers to update their prepaid metres by the end of August, three months ahead of a global mandate to overhaul the token vending system.

The process, which seeks to facilitate a continued supply of electricity is set to come to a close by the end of August and targets roughly 7.4 million prepaid metres in the country.

Kenya Power said the update is part of an international undertaking that targets all prepaid metres that use the Standard Transfer Specification, which is a universal method to transfer tokens to prepaid metres while ensuring the security of the generated tokens.

“All prepaid metres that will not have been updated by the deadline date will stop accepting the tokens. Because of this, we have put in place elaborate measures to ensure that all our customers are fully empowered and assisted in updating their metres,” Kenya Power CEO Dr Joseph Siror noted.

How customers will update their metres

According to Kenya Power, “Customers will receive two codes from Kenya Power when they purchase tokens. They will be required to key the codes to the metre following the steps indicated in their SMS before loading the new token. In other instances, the company will send the codes directly to the customers who haven’t purchased tokens to notify them to update their metres,” Dr Siror explained.

Kenya Power noted that this update will not impact the existing tokens already powering customers’ homes. However, customers are advised to load previously purchased tokens before updating their metres to avoid losses.

Read also: Lights on: 250,000 new Kenya Power customers join grid

Global token vending system switchover

The Standard Transfer Specification (STS) technology serves as the global benchmark for transferring electricity and other utility prepayment tokens. It uses a secure messaging system to convey information between points-of-sale and meters, ensuring compatibility across system components from different manufacturers. With advancements in technology, the STS Association has enhanced the security protocols of the STS system.

As a result, all users of STS-based systems worldwide including Kenya Power are mandated to comply with these updated standards and specifications by November 2024 because, the current security level of the Secure Module must be upgraded to meet the STS600-4-2 standards, as approved by the American National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The Token Identifier (TID) will reach its limit on November 24, 2024, implying that each prepaid meter be upgraded using special TID Key Change Tokens before this date to continue accepting new tokens.

Globally, utilities that use STS-compliant prepaid meters are required to update their meters to continue accepting vended tokens. To ensure that meters continue to accept vended tokens after November 2024, their keys must be changed to a new base date of 2014 using the Token Identifier (TID) process.

It is important to note that all prepaid meters based on STS technology that are not updated will cease to accept electricity tokens after November 24, 2024, across the world.

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