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#Mobile Money

Powertel introduces ZESA electricity recharge cards


Powertel, the sole aggregator of ZESA prepaid electricity will be introducing prepaid electricity scratch cards to its growing distribution channel.

Just last week Powertel finalized a long overdue integration with Econet, Telecel, and NetOne allowing registered users the opportunity to purchase the utility product from the convenience of their mobile devices. The system went live on Friday with most users expressing satisfaction with the service thus far.

Now, Powertel looks to add more convenience by offering prepaid electricity recharge scratch cards in $5, $10, $20 and $50 denominations. According to Powertel the scratch card works like this:

  1. Scratch the recharge card to reveal the recharge number
  2. You then send an SMS to 134
  3. SMS should say: zetdc*recharge number*meter number
  4. Once you send the SMS a notification should be received containing the recharge meter number.recharge-4

The scratch cards should be available at all Powertel agents and be available to resellers by Friday, We are yet to establish how much the recharge cards would be for resellers seeing that electricity resale has been quite a profitable venture in Zimbabwe.

Sore Points

  • The recharge card system is currently only available to NetOne and Powertel networks, they expect the system to be integrated with all other mobile operators starting next week.
  • The denominations, we think that starting at $2 and moving up would have been more reflective of the convenience the recharge cards are meant to serve. A quick solution to a tight fix which should allow some ‘bachelors’ a chance to buy electricity recharge at $2. Also, a $30 voucher wouldn’t hurt, not for its practical use but for the sake of having it.recharge-3
  • The steps to recharge are slightly complicated. If the product is being purchased by resellers, for example, Powertel has essentially made its money already, so why not allow a user to simply scratch a code and input into the meter?recharge-1

It could be that their e-payment system generates codes on demand and may not have               provision for an allocation of recharge card codes but this may be something Powertel will have to look into for ease of use.

We are very critical on ease of use, and this should become one-step operations as the product evolves.

  • Cash. Like all recharge cards, this will require cash to purchase. As we wait for the introduction of Bond Notes the cash crisis still persists so the uptake of this product may be slower than they anticipate. Nobody is willing to let go of USD at this point, which is why the mobile money integration was critical.
  • A little too late? The introduction of the recharge cards may be a little too late in the game, this probably should have happened once the metered system came into effect. At a stage where even airtime is moving to electronic purchases, this may be a late introduction.

Besides the sore points overall it is a welcome introduction to the convenience of buying electricity. Our main question is why didn’t this come sooner? As Powertel adds more ways to purchase electricity consumer methods will now become a case of preference over limited availability.

What do you think of Powertel’s new electricity recharge card system?


Quick NetOne, Telecel, Africom, And Econet Airtime Recharge

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