Michael Tome Business Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) yesterday launched a US$35 million prepaid and smart metering roll-out programme as it seeks to curb growing debt risks due to payments default by major electricity consumers.
ZETDC, the power transmission unit of ZESA Holdings, is owed approximately $42 billion by customers who are still post-paid metres.
Launched at Harare Polytechnic College in Harare yesterday, the programme will be rolled out in residential areas, farming communities, and small enterprises while smart meters will be extended to large and medium power consumers.
ZETDC acting managing director Engineer Ralph Katsande said the remaining class of consumers, although fewer than those already on devices; generate the larger portion of the revenue for the utility.
“It is therefore imperative that these points be migrated to the prepaid metering platform without delay and as such ZETDC has resumed prepaid meter installations starting with residential clients and small business units,” said Eng Katsande.
The prepaid and smart meters have the potential to lower the utility’s operational costs by between 55 and 60 percent.
ZESA has previously indicated that it is losing potential revenue due to illegal connections and “primitive” of billing.
In 2012, the ZETDC introduced the first-ever pre-paid platform. Ever since the introduction of the prepayment platform, there has been a major shift in the purchasing of electricity tokens from the banking halls to the more convenient channels.
ZETDC has managed to migrate 751 000 consumers to the prepaid platform mainly small business points and domestic customers while 103 000 points remain on the post-paid and load limit platform.
According to Engineer Katsande, “this is a move that forms key building blocks towards a smart grid ZETDC as the utility intends to implement measures that are in tandem with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
ZESA stakeholder relations manager, Dr George Manyaya indicated that the smart meter or intelligent meters program unveiled yesterday resonates with the National Development Strategy 1 (INDS1), which aims to address inefficiencies in revenue collection.
“We are introducing this concept to our consumers especially those who use the bulk of electricity. This is all to address the security of electricity supply as well as to make the utility more customer-centric.
“As ZETDC we are now able to boost our revenue collection, as we seek to deploy and recapitalize our operations. Efficient revenue collection will ensure that we have money to fund other operations, including the purchase of vehicles that attend to faults, buying fault locators so that we capitalise our business,” said Dr Manyaya. Harare region alone has over 300 000 customers with a total of 268 484 installed on prepaid meters.