The Sunday Mail
Zesa battles to collect US$1 billion
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company, a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings, has installed 568 554 prepaid meters — more than the targeted 564 859 for the first phase of the project.Overall, Zesa targets to install 800 000 prepaid electricity meters and 140 000 smart meters by 2018.
Egypt-headquartered Africa Export and Import Bank has loaned US$130 million for the project to the power utility. Zesa spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira told The Sunday Mail Business the project would improve power efficiency and save money.
“ZETDC has installed 568 554, with a set target of 564 859 prepaid meters having been reached as set in the first phase although there are a few meters that are still to be retrofitted.
“Additional meters having been necessitated by new connections that have led to the expansion of the national electricity grid . . .
“The second phase of the programme is targeting to reach the 800 000 prepaid meter mark in line with the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation, the economic blueprint to empower the nation through reliable power supplies.
“Over and above the current cash payment e-vending arrangement through Powertel, ZETDC is introducing additional payment terms to support the vending activities and ensure there are no stock outs, sales are optimised and commission is received almost instantly,” said Mr Gwasira.
It is estimated that 90 percent of prepaid electricity vending transactions go through Powertel’s switch aggregator. Powertel is a unit of Zesa specialising in telecommunications.
All transactions are set to go through the system by September 2016.
About 38 550 smart meters have been supplied during the first phase, while an additional 130 000 will be delivered for the second phase.
The number of smart units is expected to increase as Zesa replaces faulty or vandalised meters.
Smart metering systems usually consist of meters deployed at sites, communication infrastructure and the back-end system that is commonly known as the Meter Data Management System that will be acquired through a separate tender. Zesa will implement the project to cut costs and prevent hacking.
Zesa is forecast to save US$120 million yearly once the smart meter project is completed. The expiry of the Statutory Instrument allowing duty-free imports of the equipment has been holding back progress.
Added Mr Gwasira: “The 2 000 single phase meters purchased from Solutions For Africa are with customs awaiting clearance. The challenge is that the SI for duty exemption for ZETDC expired on June 4 2016 and they might be delays whilst we await approval of request sent to Zimra by Ministry of Energy and Power Development.”
In addition, Zesa intends to mount prepaid meters on poles to minimise tampering, including auditing and monitoring power users.
Regional power utilities that have implemented smart metering pilot projects include Eskom (South Africa), Tanesco (Tanzania), Zesco (Zambia) and the Botswana Power Corporation.