The Herald reports that Zimbabwean electricity providers, ZESA, has cancelled all pre-paid meters with immediate effect as it is currently in the adoption phase of smart meters, a solution to the utility’s revenue protection.

South African companies Solahart, Finmark and Nyamezela have been installing the pre-paid systems since August 2012 while Chinese firm ZTE was found to be supplying problematic meters.

Zimbabwe has a 800 000 unit target to reach, leaving ZESA to put out a tender for 300 000 smart meters to add to the already installed 515 000 pre-paid meters, said the Herald.

‘The power utility has completed 97 percent of the project with 515 000 prepaid meters having been installed on domestic premises and small institutions countrywide as per the first phase’ said Zesa spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira.

With power theft costing the country a staggering US$10 million a month in revenue, the smart meter systems is a costly decision but is imperative for long term reliable power supply and economic growth.

Smart meters have the ability to track where power is being fed to and from allowing the possibility of any bypassing to be eliminated.

Gwasira told suppliers that they would purchase the 6 000 existing pre-paid meters in stock and employ another contractor to install them.

‘The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has not cancelled the contracts of prepaid meter installers, but the project has successfully come to an end as per the set targets’, he said.

He added that ‘only one contractor has faced technical constraints and the power utility has amicably reached an agreement that it buys out the 40 000 remaining prepaid meters from them and utilise its own labour to have them installed to complete the whole exercise’.

Gwasira told media that once the tendering process is completed the installation of the smart meters would commence early next year by four contractors.

Gwasira explained that 40 percent of the 300 000 smart units would be given to local firms and the remainder 60 percent would be awarded to the top company out of the three currently competing.

‘ZETDC is also expecting to have finalised the engagement of service providers to install smart prepaid meters within the first quarter of 2015 through due processes of the State Procurement Board’…

‘The engagement of those service providers would be in four categories wherein the first category of 40 percent (120 000 smart meters) encompasses those locally registered suppliers that have the highest level of technical competence in line with the provisions of the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation of empowering our indigenous businesses as well as to create employment’…

‘The other downstream categories are 30 percent (second category of 90 000 smart meters), 20 percent (third category of 60 000 smart meters), and the fourth category of 10 percent (30 000 smart meters) depending on their different levels of technical competence’, said Gwasira.