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Move to set up Oman’s first smart meter plant

MUSCAT, AUG 18 - The semi-government National Electricity and Energy Center (NEEC) is weighing plans for the establishment of the Sultanate’s first plant dedicated to the manufacturing of smart meters, based on Internet of Things (IoT) technology, for the power, water and gas supply sectors.

The move stems from proposals that emerged from the ‘Information and Communications Technology & 4th Industrial Revolution Lab’ organised by key government authorities earlier this year. The roughly month-long Lab was hosted by the Informational Technology Authority (ITA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport and Communications, and the Implementation Support & Follow-up Unit (ISFU) of the Diwan of Royal Court.

As many as 28 projects and initiatives were proposed during the Lab as part of a wider push to jumpstart the growth of a thriving value-creating and employment generating ICT industry in Oman. Lab participants lamented the current “almost non-existent” deployment of smart water and electricity meters in the Sultanate, despite their importance in, among other things, enhancing efficient energy consumption, curtailing leakage and waste, and eliminating metering and billing errors.

“Many countries are currently adopting and installing smart meters in all houses,” said ISFU in a report on the ICT Lab. “Therefore, this project aims to expand the use of smart meters for water, electricity and gas in the future in the Sultanate,” it noted. The National Electricity and Energy Center, founded in 2016, is spearheading the development of the smart meter facilitating facility in the Sultanate. Other stakeholders in the initiative include the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Authority for Electricity Regulation (AER), and various electricity distribution utilities.

Part of NEEC’s mission is to support the development of indigenous capacity focused on the production and delivery of smart metering products and services, and end-to-end solutions targeted at utilities, as well as the emerging renewable energy sector.

The proposed plant will specialise in the manufacture of smart devices based on IoT technology, catering to utilities operating in the electricity, water and gas supply domains. “The importance of this project lies in reducing the cost (associated with the use) of conventional meters and reducing leakages as well. They also provide timely and accurate data on water, electricity and gas consumption, enabling users to adjust their consumption, thus reducing the cost of monthly bills,” ISFU noted in its report.

NEEC’s track record in smart metering services is already well-established in the Sultanate. Recently, the company announced a partnership with the Public Authority for Water (Diam) and Ooredoo in supporting the deployment of Automated Meter Reading (AMR) as a pilot scheme in Musandam Governorate. Shareholders in NEEC include Shumookh Investment & Services, Madayn, and a number of government, defence and security pension funds.

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