2 January 2013

Zambia: Currency Change-Over Starts On Low Key

THE change-over exercise for the new local currency started on a low note yesterday as the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) at some commercial banks had not resumed operating.

In Lusaka only a few people went to the ATMs, which were operational to withdraw the new money indicating that most account holders had accessed the cash ahead of the New Year fearing that the ATMs could still be down yesterday.

The new currency became a legal tender yesterday following its official unveiling on Monday but most business entities did not start accessing it. The situation was compounded by yesterday's public holiday which made commercial banks not to operate.

Most traders talked to said they had not seen the new Kwacha and Ngwee yet and by press time only a few people had managed to access the new currency through the ATMs.

At United Bank of Africa (UBA) on Lusaka's Cairo Road, only two people had accessed money through the ATM by 12:00 hours while at Ecobank only five did and later the system broke down.

Zanaco customers could not access their money in town because the ATMs were scheduled to resume operating after lunch time while there was no access to the ATM at Indo Zambia, Northend branch.

At Standard Chartered, the system was down and the security guards found said all the costumers were going away without withdrawing their money.

Abiud Kawangu, an account holder for Ecobank said he had received text through his mobile phone that the money was available but was not able to withdraw after the system collapsed.

Chrispin Chipanga, a minibus driver operating at Millennium Bus station said he was anxious to see the new Kwacha and Ngwee.

On the Copperbelt, the Zambia Electrometer Limited has successfully installed pre-paid metre calibrating software in facilities being used by Zesco, North-Western Energy Company, Mulonga Water and Sewerage Company and other firms which use the metres.

Company marketing manager Joo Chunga said in an interview in Ndola yesterday that the rebasing calibration exercise was being done through the software which is used in the pre-payment system.

"This has been done for all our three clients you have mentioned.

So between January and June, people will be able to buy electricity and water units using both the new and old currencies as all the pre-payment systems have been designed to receive both the old and new currencies," Mr Chunga said.

He said the clients of the Ndola based Zambia Electrometer, the country's sole manufacturer of pre-paid metres had their system replaced months before the December 31 deadline.

Mr Chunga said the systems for Zesco, Northwestern Energy and Mulonga Water and Sewerage Company had been re-based and workers were trained on how to use the re-based system.

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