Industry to get smart meters

HARARE - National power utility Zesa Holdings (Zesa) says it is finalising the framework for the installation of smart meters to industry and farmers.

The parastatal’s chief executive, Josh Chifamba, on Monday said his organisation is targeting to install 40 000 prepaid smart metres for bulk power users including farmers, manufacturers and miners.

“To date, we are adjudicating for smart meters and we expect this adjudication to be completed by end of November.  We have called bidders to demonstrate and we will then report the results to the State Procurement Board (SPB),” he said.

Zesa, which incurred a loss of $140 million in the nine months to September with the loss expected to widen to $233 million by year end, started the pre-paid meter system in 2012 as a way of curbing payment defaults.

Most of the power company’s defaulters are corporates who account for over 60 percent of Zesa’s over $1 billion debtor’s book.

However, Zimbabwe’s power demand has fallen by nearly 40 percent over the past decade on the back of a deteriorating economy and industry shut-down.

Chifamba was quick to point out that the company was not going to go beyond installation of 40 000 smart pre-paid meters as bulk power users in the country did not exceed this number, a result of massive company closures.

“We cannot go beyond 40 000 because all bulk power users combined cannot exceed this figure.

“What we are in the process of doing at the moment is trying to ensure that we can reach a payment settlement with users like farmers who usually get their payments once off . . . to enable them to pay for the power they use throughout the year,” he said.

The Zesa boss noted that the company also expected an additional 130 000 pre-paid electricity meters to be delivered by end of 2016 as the group moves to tap into new connections for additional revenue.

“The challenge with delivery has been on the foreign exchange allocation by the central bank, suppliers have been unable to pay their own suppliers…

“However, we expect the full batch to have been delivered before the year ends. As we speak, we are due to receive another batch of meters today (Monday). The rest will be delivered in batches up to year end,” Chifamba said.

This comes as Zesa distribution subsidiary’s managing director, Julian Chinembiri, recently told a local weekly that the power company was set to miss its 650 000 installation target.

Meanwhile, electricity sales into the domestic market are projected to close 2016 at $727 million against an initial budget projection of $1,2 billion.

So far, only $549,6 million has been realised from local electricity sales in the nine months to September.

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