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at the official launch of the pre-paid metering roll out in Highfield
I feel greatly honoured to address this august gathering at the historic and keenly awaited launch of the roll-out programme of the installation of smart/prepaid meters, chiefly to empower domestic customers and all institutions countrywide to manage their own consumption of power, among other associated benefits.
The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), a subsidiary of ZESA Holdings is directing its efforts towards the installation of 600 000 prepaid meters countrywide to replace the conventional billing system that had been posing challenges to both the power utility and the consumers.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing power shortfall since 1997 as a result of the lack of additional generation capacity, against a background of increased load growth across all sectors in the economy. The last new generation capacity was in the early 80's at Hwange. The power shortfall was worsened by the loss of dependable capacity at Hwange Power Station as a result of lack of maintenance during the period to early 2009. The dependable capacity fell from 780MW in the late 1990's to an average of 90MW to 300MW during 2007 to early 2009. However, the dependable capacity has since been improved to an average of 500MW currently. Zimbabwe has over the last three years been making positive strides towards the restoration of basic services like the provision of electricity in our homes.
Against a suppressed maximum demand of about 2000MW, an average power supply of 1 300MW is resulting in a 35% power deficit resulting in load shedding in order to balance supply and demand. The load shedding, which is unavoidable is inconveniencing customers and frustrating efforts to turn around the economy. The implementation of the Medium Term Plan, among other initiatives to revive the economy requires adequate power supply to ensure that industrial capacity utilization increases.
We are implementing short, medium and long term interventions to address the power shortage.
In the short term the technology at the three small thermal power stations at Harare, Munyati and Bulawayo will be changed in order for them to produce at full capacity of 285MW. Efforts are underway to revive the dependable capacity of Hwange Power Station through major maintenance works at a cost of $40 million. The dependable capacity is expected to reach 700MW within the next twelve months.
Negotiations are underway for the installation of 100MW solar plant, targeted for commissioning next year. A tender for the quantification of Coal Bed Methane in Lupane will be floated soon. This will enable TEMPORARY Generation to commence next year.
The medium term strategies include the expansion of Hwange and Kariba Power Stations by adding two additional units at each station thereby creating an additional capacity of 900MW. Tenders floated are being adjudicated and awards will be made in the near future and commissioning will be within the next four years. Construction of a 30MW hydro plant at Gairezi is expected soon and the ground breaking ceremony will be at the end of next month.
In the long term, amongst other things, we have reached an agreement with Zambia to develop the Batoka gorge with a capacity to generate 1 600 megawatts.
Zimbabweans have gotten to the stage where they want to see real change on the ground. The expansion exercise will generate thousands of jobs which will bring about real transformation. The many young disgruntled unemployed youths will therefore find a source of livelihood which will help uplift the lives of their families.
Earlier in the year, power imports were being curtailed due to arrears to HCB that had ballooned to over $85 million since the Zimdollar era. Measures were taken to reduce this amount to less than $8m this month which has helped in securing the Power Purchase Agreement has resulted in the stable and increased imported power. I would like to thank Stanbic Bank for the assistance provided in assisting with the fundraising.
The short term demand side measures involve the efficient use of electricity. Studies conducted in an independent study established that up to 20% of electricity consumed can be saved if used efficiently.
The smart/prepayment metering, will result in consumers changing their usage behavior to efficient use. The benefits of smart/prepaid metering are as follows:
The change in usage habits will result in up to 20% saving or a national saving of about 120MW at peak.
Customers currently owe ZESA over $600m. I confirm that all debt incurred during the Zim dollar era was written off. Any debt that is owing by a customer will be input into the meter. 20% of the money used to buy electricity will be applied towards the reduction of debt until it is fully paid. This initiative is in recognition of the hardship being faced by our consumers and hopefully will go some way in alleviating their plight. All those who were disconnected for nonpayment can now be connected to smart/ prepaid meters without paying a down payment or reconnection fee.
ZESA is rolling out smart/prepaid meters in all domestic and all business premises. This roll out of smart /prepaid metering is expected to be completed within ten months. To date, 19,000 customers of the 600,000 customer base now have prepaid meters. A further 19,000 prepaid meters are expected to be installed within the next four weeks. The installers are working furiously and will seek to get access to your properties from 6am to 7pm everyday of the week.
There has been an unfortunate labour relations dispute within ZESA which threatens the efficient operations of the organization. I have noted with concern issues raised in some quarters that the ministry is interfering in the collective bargaining exercise. I have met with the leadership of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) to give them my assurances.
As the minister, I have respected the space occupied by the unions, Board members and management including the collective bargaining agreements they reach. I am told that the minimum wage in ZESA is over $500 per month including allowances. As the minister I am concerned with the plight of workers and would want to see their concerns taken care of. I have now been informed that management and the unions are now negotiating and hope that they will come out with a win win solution soon.
The purpose of this occasion is to officially launch this critical Demand Side Management (DSM) project of prepaid metering, which is beneficial to the socio-economic fabric of consumers, the Utility and the Zimbabwean Economy.
I want to assure the people of Zimbabwe that we are aware of the power outages that have disrupted business and inconvenienced consumers. We are doing all we can to ensure that we rectify this situation which has been allowed to fester for almost three decades.
The catch phrase for all Zimbabweans is SAVE POWER and SWITCH OFF SWITCHES.
With these remarks, I declare the installation of prepaid meters officially launched.
I thank you.
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