Zimbabwe power company mulls selling $1 bln customer debt

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s state-owned electricity distribution company is considering selling $1 billion in debt owed to it by defaulting customers, its managing director said on Monday.

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

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“We are thinking of selling our debt at a discounted rate,” Julian Chinembiri, the power firm’s managing director, said.

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“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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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