Home » Business » Zesa Turns Down Econet Request

Zesa turned down a request by Econet Wireless to sell pre-paid electricity tokens through its mobile money transfer service, EcoCash, saying the third party vending facility was reserved for State-linked enterprises.The telecommunications company said it could solve the problem of tampering with pre-paid meters that is costing Zesa millions of dollars in revenue every month.

Indications are that distribution networks for sale of electricity tokens by a Zesa subsidiary, PowerTel, and its technical partner E-Solutions, were not yet effective and the power utility’s banking halls remained congested.

Zesa chose NetOne, TelOne, CBZ, ZB, Agribank, Zimpost and POSB to sell prepaid electricity on its behalf following bids from 38 companies. Prior to this, pre-paid electricity tokens were available at Zesa banking halls and at two OK Supermarkets in Harare, and a ZETDC desk in TM Supermarket Mutare.

The tokens were only sold during working hours though Zesa is working on introducing electricity scratch cards to de-congest its banking malls.Econet then approached Zesa and the Energy and Power Development Ministry seeking permission to sell electricity tokens through EcoCash.

In a letter to Econet chief executive Mr Douglas Mboweni, Zesa chief executive Engineer Josh Chifamba said: “You indicated in your letter that the Minister of Energy and Power Development Dzikamai Mavhaire had ‘received positively’ your proposal for an EcoCash solution for prepaid electricity.

“I had my regular briefing with the minister and among other issues, we also discussed your proposal. Government’s position on this issue is very clear and the minister reiterated it. Electricity vending will for now remain the preserve of the State-owned enterprises exclusively.

“Should Government change the policy in future, we will certainly contact you to develop the relationship.”

Eng Chifamba said the power utility was working out modalities to minimise the tampering of pre-paid meters.

“I also note with appreciation that you have initiated an investigation to find a possible solution to minimise tampering of prepaid meters. We look forward to selecting a very effective system to stem this rot, through a competitive bidding process,” he said.

Minister Mavhaire said the ministry was so far satisfied with the services offered by State-linked enterprises.

“A number of companies, including Econet, approached us wanting to cash-in on the facility but we realised that our parastatals are not fully utilising (such opportunities) hence the idea to appoint PowerTel to create the distribution networks.

“It is only after the State enterprises have failed that we are going to approach the private sector, by tender. But so far so good.”

Some companies that submitted bids to sell tokens have challenged how the tender went to PowerTel.

Source : The Herald

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