How tech can help: The Zesa prepaid power billing

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Cash PowerZimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) has been phasing out the old power meters and replacing them with the Cash Power prepaid meters like the one on the right. Zesa recently had our power meter changed, and we have been using this meter for almost two months now, and the benefits are numerous such as: no more inaccurate power bills, extremely improved management of your power consumption and, yes, no more strangers coming into your home monthly to get your meter readings.

These developments are all good but there’s one main problem, the payment method. What happens when for one reason or another, even with the money on them, a person is unable to go to the Zesa offices to buy more power. Say it’s the middle of the night for example. Or say the Zesa offices are closed for business. Or the many reasons that would prevent one from physically availing themselves at the Zesa offices to hand over the cash for the power.

I had to literally rush into the city this past weekend to buy more power before my power credit ran out. Luckily enough for me, Zesa is open on Saturdays and Sundays at a few branches in the city but had this not been the case, this was going to be a powerless weekend. At the offices I went to, there was a long queue reminiscent of the 2008 inflation days; I had to wait along with the other frustrated customers because only one cashier was equipped for Cash Power buying customers. During my time there I gathered that so far, the only payment method available is cash, that is one has to physically come to a Zesa office to buy their power.

This experience made me realise that all these problems could be reduced if technology was used to facilitate the payment of the power bills. The recharge process involves the customer producing their power card and the cashier crediting the account with the amount paid for. The customer then receives a recharge code that they have to enter on the cash meter device in their home.

It would be convenient if one could pay for their bill using many of mobile payments services out there and receive the recharge code via sms, email or any other communication medium the customer prefers.



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25 Comments

  1. Bee

    They should just learn or copy from what is being done here in South Africa where you can buy prepaid electricity at most garages an supermarkets.

    Reply
  2. Kuda madzima

    All they need to do is to partner with mobile phone operators like Econet. They can also partner with filling stations, supermarkets. This will definitely ensure availability of the service 24/7

    Reply
  3. Blaz James

    In South Africa, you can buy prepaid electricity from almost anywhere be it at a supermarket such as Pick n Pay or Shoprite, on your cellphone, Internet banking, ATMs and even street vendors. That is how easy it is. Zesa must enter into partnerships with banks, cellphone service providers, supermarkets and must emprower small traders to sell electricity. Our lives will get so much easier.

    Reply
  4. Timehits

    Though I’m not on the pre-paid meter yet, I do wish we had a choice not to opt in. I’m one of the few people that aren’t bothered too much by the zesa bills as I make a comfortable income and prefer to use my electricity however I prefer as at the end of the day I am the one paying for it.

    Switching off my geyser before leaving for work in the morning will be inconvnient as sometimes I come back in the afternoon needing a quick shower and by then the water will be cold. Sure I could get a solar geyser (had it before) but the wife hates those as most of the time she wants to fill up the tub the hot water quickly runs out! Also things like the borehole cant be turned off as they run on electricity and the pool pump being used “economically” will result in a green pool requiring even more maintenance.

    Also as summer is fast approaching, its time to plugin the AC systems again (I have one in the lounge, bedroom and study) and each system has a rated power of 900w so you can imagine on a really hot day when the systems are crancked up to max the power may just inconveniently run out!

    Sorry for blabering on but though these pre-paid meters may bring salvation to some they may bring greif to others, as the old saying goes, one mans meat is another mans poison! But I will support them fully once there is an abundance of payment of options such as via mobile or online.

    Reply
    1. chakaz

      Given the current economic hardships pre-payments is the best option for any service provider. Its gud that now yu are earning a comfortable salary, however such decisions are not based on individual earnings but on the overall economic perfomance. Now that people are trickling in with funds ZESA needs to work on a strategy to reduce the queues by partnering with other service providers. PEOPLE SHOULD PAY FOR WHAT THEY USE!!!!

      Reply
    2. KuraiMGT

      Want a free ride off others, kikikiki Nice! if You were really comfortable with your bill, the meter does not limit how much you use, load it with the cash and let all your gadgets have a feast. I wish even corporate use prepaid so that in the long term, there is a possibility of enough power.

      Reply
    3. Knowledge

      ZESA are bringing the meters for people like you so that we who want to save can save but you who want to waste it can waste the electricity CASHFULLY!

      Reply
  5. Tavengwa Sipapate

    They should even look into having it sold in bulk so that those airtime vendors can sell, as well as online or through your bank, in Texas, USA, they have a system that you link to your bank account, you select how much electricity you want to buy & when to buy, the system reports back to you via sms or email to let you know of the transaction & to add to that, they have other devices you plug into your wall that let you know how much electricity (in terms of units) a particular appliance is using per given period, Zesa should invest in making it convenient to buy prepaid electricity

    Reply
    1. Marek

      I’m not sure how the thing validates those numbers but I think they cannot be sold like scratch cards since the power meter at home probably doesn’t connect back to ZESA system to check the top up code. I think that the prepaid system and the meter must have an algorithm that requires a unique meter number to be known at the time of generating the code otherwise several people would be able to use the same code.

      Reply
  6. tinm@n

    Are people forced to have prepaid meters?! Shouldnt these things be optional?

    As for the solutions that can help, I ditto what has already been mentioned by @Bee, Kuda madzima and Blaz James

    Reply
  7. tinm@n

    Are people forced to have prepaid meters?! Shouldnt these things be optional?

    As for the solutions that can help, I ditto what has already been mentioned by @fc34ffd2306e084a19d9e311093251f3:disqus, @kudamadzima:disqus and @47c20de8673950942c3aec242c82c344:disqus

    Reply
  8. Mark

    I think old ZESA needs to study their new systems carefully from a customer convenience point of view. I have been using prepaid electric and gas here in the UK for 1 year now, the system uses a token or smart card which you can take to post offices or nearest corner shop equipped with a certain machine called a PayPoint (
    http://www.paypoint.co.uk/ ), you simply pay at the till using your preferred method of payment and they load the credit onto the smart card and you simply stick it into your prepaid meter to tell it how much credit you have bought. Every token/smartcard carries £5 emergency credit on it, eg if I put I buy £25 electric then it only puts £20 (which usually does me for a month) into the meter meaning I will always have £5 available as back up if it runs out of juice and the shops are closed.
    http://www.southern-electric.co.uk/GasAndElectricity/PayAsYouGo/

    Reply

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