Zim power company mulls selling $1bn customer debt

A sluggish economic performance and job losses has seen more people struggle to settle their utility bills.

FILE: Electricity transmission pole, with clouds in background. Picture: Freeimages.com

HARARE Zimbabwes state-owned electricity distribution company is considering selling $1 billion in debt owed to it by defaulting customers, its managing director said on Monday.

A sluggish economic performance this year, marked by company closures and job losses has seen more people struggle to settle their utility bills.

We are thinking of selling our debt at a discounted rate, Julian Chinembiri, the power firms managing director, said.

Our customers owe us $1billion. We need to negotiate selling the debt so that we can get our money early, he said without giving further details.

The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) purchases power from the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) and sells it to customers.

To improve revenue collection, ZETDC is in the process of installing pre-paid metres forcing customers to pay for electricity before they use it, Chinembiri said.

On Monday ZPC said it was generating 1082 megawatts of electricity compared to 801 MW last week after shutting the Hwange plant due to technical faults.

Hwange, which has a capacity of 920 MW was producing 392 MW. Zimbabwe has a peak electricity demand of 2,200 MW.

Chronic power cuts lasting up to 18 hours a day are regular in Zimbabwe, forcing local industries to use costly diesel generators to keep operations running. Electricity shortages have been blamed for keeping away potential investors.