…… To Install 17000 Smart Meters In 2023
By Shingirai Vambe
Harare- Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) is set to commission over 17 000 smart meters to big companies that use over 100amps such as industries, mines and farms which constitute 60 percent of energy consumers in the country.
Commercial Director at ZETDC, Eng Ralph Katsande said, “We launched smart metering program for our medium and large customers on January 17, and we are now in the roll-out phase, I’m happy to say that the program has progressed well.
“The roll-out sees us here at NetOne, this is a milestone achievement. NetOne is not only a customer, but an enabler in this new technology.”
Addressing journalist on Friday morning during the commissioning of the meter at NetOne shop in Harare, ZETDC Managing Director, Howard Choga said, “The technology is by far smart as it comes with flexibility in managing revenue, buying electricity, monitoring consumption as well as remote switch on or off at the comfort of your home or office.”
Demonstrated during the commissioning, the meter uses a mobile Sim Card to access or retrieve data.
Project manager, Engineer Wilfred Shereni, said the smart metering project reduces leakages and expenses that come with prepaid meters that require one to drive only to enter a recharge pin.
“ZETDC is implementing the renewable energy strategy goal of harnessing excess energy. A lot of our customers have installed solar panels at their homes and they have excess energy which they can feed into the grid and bank with the utility and once they want to use electricity from ZESA, then WE Net. This is were the name net metering came from, netting power and subtract the kilowatts that they contributed into the grid.
“It is called distributed generation or small scale imbedded generation, if we are to put panels on roof tops of each house in Harare, each house can generate about 5kw which is enough and we won’t have to get power from Hwange or Kariba. We reduce technical loses.When power is transmitted over a long distance, there are technical loses,” added Shereni.
He said the system reduces expenses even the energy bill as the country targets 30 percent of the energy from renewable sources.
There are also smart meters for domestic users, if a customer has a panel at his or her house, can put a smart meter free of charge and be able to do net metering by feeding into the grid.
The project was funded by Afreximbank loan scheme of US$110 million and other internal resources.
Since the system uses mobile data technology, Eng Katsande told the Post On Sunday Newspaper that where there is no network coverage, the system can use fiber network.
The Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) has welcomed the technology which wholly use mobile phone lines and data.
Director General (POTRAZ) Gift Machengete said, “We encourage the adoption of state of the art technologies, we support the technological advancements. We are pushing for the digitization of the economy, not only for one sector but all sectors being digitalized by 2030.
The ultimate aim is for other sectors to utilize those technologies and available infrastructure, it’s the usage that matters,” said Machengete.
Responding on the network coverage gap that is existing in Zimbabwe, standing in for NetOne CEO Raphael Mushanawana, Eng Jeremiah Munembe told the Post On Sunday Newspaper that there is the National Mobile Broadband phase 3, launched by the President in September 2021.
“This project enables us to add an additional 345 sites across the country, and we are targeting some of these underserved areas to increase network coverage, as well as infrastructure sharing were we are working with other network operators, where we do not have coverage we are putting our equipment on their base stations they are also doing the same,” added Munembe.
He said this aims to achieve 100 percent coverage, to enable the digital society and smart connectivity.
Smart metering technology, is the smart meter which is used to enable net metering which is a scheme whereby a customer with excess renewable energy feeds back into the grid, for ZETDC to do net meter they need smart meters.
The procurement of these smart meters was done through competitive bidding and two suppliers from Slovenia and India were awarded the tender. However, the company is looking forward to engage with a tech-partner who can work with our local teams and innovation hubs for reverse engineering and mass production of the same technology to save foreign currency and create employment.
In Africa, South Africa, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya and Zambia are already manufacturing and installing smart meters in their respective countries.
Experts have released their survey reports, and prove that, Africa’s economic growth is still fragile as the continent is hit by inflation, energy crisis and climate events.