The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company, a unit of Zesa Holdings, has in the first six months of the year, recovered $24 million owed by customers in power bills through its prepayment system.
Mining companies and industry owe ZETDC over $244 million, while domestic users and farmers debts stand at over $300 million and $75 million respectively. Cumulatively, ZETDC customers owed over $1 billion.
Zesa spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira said prepaid meters and smart meters would help clear the debts, which have been outstanding for years. "Every month Zesa collects more than $4 million from prepaid meter users as part of measures to recover debts, and so far, estimates show that over $24 million was collected in the first half of the year," he said.
"That is the main reason we are fast tracking the installation of prepaid meters across the country so that we are able to recover more debts, and also, the installation of smart meters will contain power leakages and theft as the latest smart meters reports back where there is tampering of meters and power leakages," said Mr
The prepaid metering system deducts about 20 percent from prepayments by defaulting customers and is now ZETDC's main debt collection strategy. Zesa plans to install 800 000 pre-paid and 140 000 smart meters by 2018. Cost savings from the systems are expected to reach $120 million this year. More than 136 000 customers on post paid metering owe amounts as high as $1 000, while 56 000 customers owe between $1 000 and $5 000.
About 4 000 customers owe more than $5 000 each while a total of 569 users have outstanding bills of over $10 000 each for power consumed.
Zesa contends that it will be able to collect an amount close to $150 million in the next three years, the time frame it set to clear its debts.