20 May, 2020 Member article

ARE Member INENSUS launches free open source software solution to manage decentralised utilities

18 May 2020, Goslar, Germany – ARE Member INENSUS launches the Open Source version of “MicroPowerManager”, an all-in-one management software for Decentralised Electric Utilities.

With the accelerating deployment of mini-grids and electricity distribution concessions in Africa and Asia, more and more Decentralised Electric Utilities are entering the market. Many of these Decentralised Utilities handle the flood of data from their operations, which consist of thousands of micro transactions and technical data points per day, manually or with software solutions developed in-house.

MicroPowerManager Open Source facilitates the entire data management within one software platform. It incorporates customer-, asset- and O&M-management features. It includes electricity and appliance sales (via deferred payment schemes) using mobile money and serves as a tool for call centers, SMS marketing campaigns as well as for monitoring revenue, staff and asset performance. An Android App for customer/meter registration including geo-tagging and an app for establishing a bi-directional SMS gateway for customer communication are released free of charge jointly with the server software.

“With MicroPowerManager Open Source, INENSUS makes the results of a decade of software development available to the public free of charge”, says Nico Peterschmidt, Managing Director of INENSUS. “This step will empower African and Asian mini-grid start-ups to deliver high quality electricity supply services, highest customer satisfaction, and ultimately help them to become profitable and sustainable electricity suppliers. Well-established Decentralised Utilities will be able to cut costs and increase operational efficiency with MicroPowerManager.”

The MicroPowerManager software has been in operation at the Decentralised Utility JUMEME Rural Power Supply Ltd. in Tanzania for more than two years. JUMEME currently manages more than 5,000 electricity customers in 11 mini-grids with the software. While other Decentralised Utilities are preparing to use MicroPowerManager in their operations, the industry welcomes INENSUS’ move to go open source with its management software.

“The African Minigrid Developers Association (AMDA) welcomes the step taken by INENSUS as it radically decreases the price of professionalising customer service in African mini-grid companies and could potentially have a catalysing effect on the African mini-grid sector“, says Aaron Leopold, CEO of AMDA.

INENSUS aims at building an active community of software developers and Decentralised Utility companies around the open source software, while contributing to the further development of MicroPowerManager with its own software development capacities. In the coming months, INENSUS will integrate MicroPowerManager with various mobile money providers and metering technologies in cooperation with Decentralised Utility companies to streamline the application of the software in various African and Asian markets. The work of INENSUS to prepare the software for open source release and its further development is financially supported by the DOEN Foundation.

“DOEN has been active in the access to energy space for over a decade. We see mini-grids as an essential part of the solution to achieve SDG7 and making sustainable energy accessible to all. To accelerate the development of (local) mini-grid developers, we support INENSUS in making their MicroPowerManager software open source available to them. Many early stage mini-grid developers work with non-integrated and often manual systems (because existing software systems are still too expensive), which means that they can make a big step in professionalizing their company at no cost. We hope this will benefit many local players.” says Saskia Werther, DOEN Foundation.

The software package can be downloaded free of charge from https://github.com/inensus/MPManager. This is also where software development contributions can be provided, either in form of ideas, bug fixes or new features.

Decentralised Utilities, which do not have in-house IT capacities to install and operate the software, can make use of INENSUS IT services. Within the grant funding period, that is until February 2021, INENSUS offers some services at a discounted rate. Services can be viewed and ordered at www.micropowermanager.com.