07 April 2014, Harare – Zesa Holdings of Zimbabwe will fork out more than US$100 million to install 300 000 smart units as it moves to dump the two-year-old prepaid meter system. The power utility will also part with about US$7 million for Meter Data Management (MDM), a central system that enables remote communication with installed smart meters country wide.
Zesa said the prepaid metres, installed at a cost of US$60 million, were being tampered with by some consumers.
Some of the 400 000 prepaid meters installed to date could be modified to enable them to report to the central system, to curb abuse that has prejudiced the power utility of large sums of money.
Zesa officials described the installation of smart units as an investment that would see the power utility increasing its monthly revenue by almost 15 percent.
Zesa’s mean monthly revenue stands at US$50 million amid reports that it has been losing more than US$10 million monthly due to power theft and leakage through the prepaid meters.
A document prepared by Zesa engineers said the smart metering system, which comes barely two years after the power utility adopted the prepaid meter system is not only expensive but also technologically risky.
The current pre-paid meters cost about US$100 each, while a smart meter costs about US$350, meaning the power utility will use more than US$105 million on the project.
Prepaid meters would have cost US$35 million.
Installation of the smart meters is expected to be complete by year end and a pilot project is expected soon.
Fears are high that Zesa does not have sufficient resources to implement and sustain such a system.
The alleged faulty pre-paid meters being ditched were supplied by Solahart, ZTE, Finmark and Nyamazela of South Africa; who were contracted to supply 500 000 units.
– The Herald