ZESA Holdings Limited says it will not fully reimburse customers who purchase prepaid meters from private companies who it says are more expensive.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings, last year proposed a ‘customer-supplied meter scheme’ that would allow customers to buy their own prepaid meters as it was struggling to meet demand because of lack of foreign currency.
About 17 suppliers were selected in February this year following a tendering process.
“We have since realised that in terms of capacity, we are seriously incapacitated so we went to tender to try and alleviate the situation. Zesa is still putting meters so for those who are comfortable with the delays or waiting period they can wait for Zesa, but for those who are interested in an expedited process, they can then approach these suppliers. These suppliers are charging different rates as prices are market driven,” Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira told NewsDay recently.
He said Zesa would only reimburse $70 of the purchase price for individuals and $130 for companies and even then, in electricity tokens.
“It is a customer’s choice. The prices are different but the price that Zesa reimburses is the price that we are getting from our suppliers.”
This was despite the suppliers selling the meters at a much higher price, with the lowest being $200.
“We are not asking people to go to a particular supplier, they can choose their supplier or they can choose to wait for Zesa. We are trying to balance convenience and the availability of meters,” Gwasira said.
“You have to factor in these third-party sources and we cannot control where they source. The beauty of market forces is that sometimes when there is competition, you can actually get a very good deal because people always go for a good deal so the idea we had was getting 17 suppliers.”
He said a total of 580 000 prepaid meters have so far been installed, out of a target of 800 000.
Zesa Holdings currently needs between $25 million and $40 million to procure the prepaid meters, but they fall under accessories and were not on the central bank’s foreign currency priority list.
“We (Zesa) do not manufacture. All we simply do is tell you what we can afford based on a price that is reasonable to buy a prepaid meter. But, if you are buying your prepaid meter which is expensive, we simply stick to our prices because that is the arrangement,” Energy and Power Development minister Joram Gumbo said.
The 17 approved suppliers are Easttown (Pvt) Limited, Finmark Energy, Mining and Industrial Suppliers Solutions for Africa (Pvt) Limited, ZB Capital, Altimate Communications, and Engineering World.
Others are Fueltec Zimbabwe, GTel Zimbabwe, Helcraw Electrical, Heliflex Investments, Paramount Cables, Sidal Engineering, Solarhart Zimbabwe, Battery Centre, Speedfire (Pvt) Limited and Carleon Trading.