In Southern Africa, Zimbabwe is issuing tender papers for smart meters as part of a move to replace badly performing prepay meters.
State-owned Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has started selling tender papers to interested suppliers for the supply of smart metering equipment to the value of US$100 million, according to local newspaper the Herald.
Julian Chinembiri, managing director of ZETDC, said this week that the tender had been advertised and interested companies were in the process of buying tender papers.
He said: The tender will close on January 20, 2015. We are now doing the second phase of the new metering system; the first was the prepaid meter system.
The tender also includes provision for a meter data management system.
Switch from prepayment meters
The news follows an announcement in July this year by Zimbabwes energy and power development minister Dzikamai Mavhaire that there was no going back on plans to switch from prepaid meters to smart units in a bid to cut state utility Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authoritys (ZESA) revenue losses.
ZESA has already installed more than 420,000 prepaid meters supplied by Solahart, Finmark and Nyamazela of South Africa. Chinas ZTE had its contract cancelled over faulty meters, according to the Herald report.
The national utility, however, is continuing to lose more than ZWD$10 million (US$28,000) monthly due to power theft, the minister said.
We are definitely switching over to smart meters because prepaid meters in place do not tell the centre that they are being circumvented resulting in some consumers using power for free, he said.
We simply need a system that reports back to the centre any shortfall or meter bypassing taking place.
According to the Zim- Asset prepaid meter target base, ZESA has to install 800 000 meters, 500 000 of which will be prepaid meters, while 300 000 will be smart meters.
Mismanagement and cronyism
Local media are reporting that it was administrative bungling at Zesa and its subsidiaries such as ZETDC, which caused the prepayment rollout to fail.
There have been reports of cronyism in the awarding of prepaid meter tenders, including to alleged incompetent individuals and companies without capacity to deliver on targets.
Allegations were also rife that some of the prepaid meters supplied and installed were faulty resulting in massive leakages that at one time saw revenue falling sharply.
The power utility is failing to maintain transmission and distribution lines as well as generation infrastructure due to financial shortage yet consumers owe over US$400 million, according to local newspaper reports.
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