Innovative Smart Meter Revolutionizes Water Billing in Bulawayo

April 29, 2024
| Report Focus News
The innovative smart meter displayed at the just ended ZITF in Bulawayo

Innocent Hadebe, CEO of Bhungane Investments, is leading the charge in addressing Bulawayo’s water billing challenges with an innovative solution – a smart meter. Motivated by the pressing need for sustainable water management in Bulawayo and beyond, Hadebe has developed a cutting-edge technology aimed at alleviating residents’ concerns regarding unfair billing practices and water availability for both residents and local authorities.

The smart meter, described by Hadebe as robust and user-friendly, offers significant relief in a city grappling with severe water shortages. Despite the implementation of a strict 120-hour water shedding schedule by the Bulawayo City Council (BCC), water bills remain exorbitant for residents, sometimes reaching astronomical levels even during periods of restricted water availability.

In an interview, Hadebe explained the functionality of the smart meter, highlighting its potential to revolutionize water management in the city. “We have prepaid or smart meters that can help us get people to trust the integrity of the pricing that they get from city council,” he said. “From the resident’s point of view, we want integrity in pricing, but also from the city council standpoint, it will help them with revenue collection.”

The smart meter, equipped with integrated software, facilitates automated revenue collection from residents, addressing concerns about billing accuracy and efficiency. Furthermore, Hadebe emphasized the meter’s ability to enable residents to monitor their water usage in real-time, providing valuable insights into consumption patterns and potential top-up needs.

However, the implementation of such a solution comes with its challenges. Hadebe acknowledged the need for collaboration with local authorities and the government to ensure the successful deployment of the smart meter system. “There are also a lot of issues which we need to deal with, for example, the Government has a mandate to give people water for free,” he explained. “So, we are working towards that to say if one buys water, they should use the free water first.”

Despite these challenges, Hadebe remains optimistic about the potential impact of the smart meter on addressing water billing challenges in Bulawayo. He aims to pilot the project in Bulawayo suburbs by the end of the year, with hopes of contributing to more equitable and efficient water management practices in the city.

Reflecting on this year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) theme, “Innovation: The Catalyst to Industrialisation and Trade,” Hadebe praised platforms like ZITF for providing a showcase for innovative solutions. He highlighted the abundance of creative ideas among young people and emphasized the importance of providing platforms for these ideas to flourish, driving economic transformation and societal impact.