HARARE, April 19 (The Source) – Zimbabwe has managed to save 110MW of electricity, the size of a small power station and about a tenth of current output, since pre-paid meters were introduced in 2012, the country’s power utility has said.
The southern African country’s current output, including imports from regional electricity suppliers, was 1,190MW as of Tuesday, against peak demand of 2,200MW. The power deficit has affected industry and households, which often go for hours without electricity.
In a statement, Power utility Zesa’s distribution unit said paying upfront for electricity has seen consumers consciously scaling down on use, resulting in energy savings.
“Customer habits have changed as they now avoid wastage and use electricity efficiently,” Zesa said.
“Capacity in the range of 110MW was released as a result of deployment of prepaid meters.”
To date, Zesa has managed to install 563,000 pre-paid meters. An additional 120,000 meters for residential users are expected to be installed by the end of 2016, Zesa said. An additional 40,000 installations are targeted for the commercial, industrial and farming sectors.
Zesa has secured $130 million from the African Export Import Bank for the procurement of 130,000 prepaid meters.
The installation of pre-paid meters in the commercial, industrial and farming areas is expected to begin in the last quarter of 2016. There has been resistance to the installation of meters on farms, with farmers arguing that their seasonal income is better suited to the current post-paid system.
Farmers owe Zesa close to $100 million. In total, the utility is owed over $1 billion.
Apart from the savings from the pre-paid metering project, Zimbabwe has managed to stabilise its power supply situation through the imports of up to 400MW from regional suppliers such as South Africa’s Eskom, which has a discretionary agreement with Zesa for off-peak supplies. Zimbabwe also imports power from Mozambique.