Zera seeks prepaid meter deals

HARARE - Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (Zera) says it is set to establish a pool of agents to sell prepaid electricity meters.

Prepaid meters have recently been in high demand after Zesa Holdings (Zesa) began to bill consumers using the prepayment model, which has been vital for controlling defaults.

Zesa was at one time owed over $1 billion in unpaid services by consumers who took advantage of the post-paid system of billing to neglect their commitments.

A significant number of consumers are now on the prepaid meter system, and the fact that the country’s electricity regulator want to accredit more agents to sell meters could be an indication of the success of the programme.

But apart from helping Zesa avoid high levels of defaults, the programme is expected to create market opportunities for a range of small-scale firms that have flourished in Zimbabwe under encouragement from government’s empowerment drive.

The national electricity supplier said in July that it was to institute a number of 
remedial actions including taking legal action, against consumers who have tempered with its prepaid metering system to avoid paying for power.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), a unit of Zesa which is responsible for distributing electricity, said it had been badly affected by the problem.

In May this year reports said it was owed over $1 billion in unpaid bills by ailing firms and domestic consumers.

It has been battling to generate sufficient cash flows to replace stolen or broken down equipment such as transformers because it has not been generating enough funds.

The power utility has been forced to import power from South Africa and Mozambique to meet national demand due to the cash flow problems.

In a notice to the market, ZETDC said the number of consumers nabbed by police after by-passing and tempering with prepaid meters was rising.

It gave those who had tempered with the meters a two-month moratorium to approach officials in order to rectify the frauds without consequences.


 

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