BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (Zetdc) is struggling to complete its prepaid electricity meter project due to foreign currency challenges, an official has said.
Since 2013, Zetdc procured and installed about 500 000 gadgets to households and businesses to replace the conventional billing system in a bid to improve revenue collection.
The power utility had targeted to install about 800 000 prepaid meters by end of last year, but failed to meet the target due to forex challenges.
Responding to questions from stakeholders who attended the Zimbabwe Energy Regulation Authority (Zera) workshop in Bulawayo recently, a Zetdc official, who could not be named for professional reasons, said the project had been hampered by forex challenges.
“Regarding the retrofitting exercise that we are doing as Zedtc, our initial target was to install prepaid meters . . . of about 800 000; that is a few years ago. So far we have managed to retrofit up to about 500 000 lines,” he said.
“The major drawback has been the issue of forex because we import meters and apparently now forex allocation from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has been a challenge to get the 300 000 meters that we needed to complete the project,” he said.
The official, however, said consumers could buy prepaid electricity meters from private firms licensed by Zera to sell the gadgets.
“So if you feel you need to change your meter and you don’t want to wait for Zedtc to change it for you, a client can always get those meters from the licensed players to expedite the whole process,” he said.
Zera senior engineer Samuel Zaranyika said together with government and Zedtc, they came up with a customer supply prepaid meter scheme in 2018 and licensed about 17 operators to bring in prepaid meters.
“To date, some 60 000 meters have been brought into the country, of which more than half of those have been sold to the public and the majority of those meters are actually being held as stock. So there are actually many meters as we speak,” he said.
Zera, in February 2018, licensed 17 private companies to sell prepaid electricity meters to consumers.
The private companies that obtained licences were 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.