Private firms import electricity meters

HARARE - The first batch of prepaid electricity meters imported by private firms that were recently licensed to sell the gadgets to consumers has arrived in the country, a senior government official has said.

This was after the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) in February licensed 17 private companies to sell prepaid electricity meters to consumers.

“We faced challenges in the procurement of these meters mainly due to foreign currency shortages and as government we are now allowing registered agencies to import and sell these meters,” Energy ministry permanent secretary Partson Mbiriri said.

“Zera has approved 17 suppliers to provide consumer supplied prepaid meters at national level as part of broad measures to clear the backlog of consumers waiting to be connected. The suppliers will work closely with the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) to expedite the clearing of electricity connections. I am informed that the first batch of meters imported under this initiative is already at the Beitbridge Border Post”

Mbiriri added that government was finalising regulations to enforce the move.

“My ministry is finalising the regulations that will enforce the new initiative. I expect ZETDC to move swiftly to clear the backlog within the coming few months.”

The private companies that obtained licences are Easttown Limited, Finmark Industries, Mining and Industrial Suppliers Solutions for Africa Limited, ZB Capital, Altimate Communications, Engineering World, Fueltec Zimbabwe, G. Telecoms, Helcraw Electrical, Heliflex Investments, Paramount Cables, Sidal Engineering, Solarhart Zimbabwe, The Battery Centre, Speedfire Limited and Carleon Trading.

Since 2013, ZETDC, procured and installed about 580 000 gadgets to households and businesses to replace the conventional billing system as the power utility tries to improve revenue collection.

ZETDC is targeting to install about 800 000 prepaid meters by the end of the year.

The prepaid meters were introduced as a debt recovery measure. Customers who owed Zesa would have a percentage of their prepaid electricity purchase deducted to service their debt with the power utility.

ZETDC has also engaged five independent prepaid meter installers, selected from 24 bidders, to expedite the installation of 14 261 prepaid meters.

These are Wall Greens, Patrid, Range Grove Sales, Kelldata and Simrose.

The installers have been demarcated into specific areas of operation and are guided by the regions of ZETDC to expedite the process to eventually make the customers switch on the lights with pomp and fanfare, a huge relief to them, as the power utility extends its service to more customers.

Patrid and Range Grove Sales will install meters in the western region where 38 200 prepaid meters would be installed at all outstanding points.

Kelldata and Simrose will install 8 464 prepaid meters in the Harare region, while Wall Greens has been tasked to service customers in Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, southern region, Masvingo, Manicaland and northern region.

— The Financial Gazette

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