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Zimbabwe to use drones to curb cable theft

Zimbabwe to use drones to curb cable theft

Zimbabwe's power utility, Zesa, has acquired industrial grade enterprise drones that will help it curb copper cables theft and outright vandalism of infrastructure.

The impoverished Southern African nation had been hit by a wave of massive thefts of transformers and copper cable, with items worth about US$20-million (R296m) having being stolen by the beginning of the year, as people struggle to earn an honest living in Zimbabwe.

In January, Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira, told media that vandalism and theft of electricity infrastructure has become a serious problem in their operations to the level of economic sabotage. Zimbabwe has been losing three transformers every night, a single transformer costs $5000 (R74.000) according to the power utility. At the end of the year the country had lost 4000 transformers.

Now, on Saturday Gwasira took on to Twitter with a pic of a drone announcing that finally the drones were now in Harare to patrol the Zimbabwe's power infrastructure.

"The Drones are here!! ZETDC adopts drones to fight Vandalism and patrol infrastructure," he wrote on Twitter.

Zimbabwe requires more than 4 000 transformers to replace stolen or obsolete ones, but faces hurdles of getting foreign currency to procure them, according to Energy and Power Development ministry.

The procurement process was completed more than two years ago, but the suppliers have failed to secure the required foreign currency to import the transformers. Similarly, Zimbabwe's only local manufacturer of transformers, Zent, has also been awaiting delivery of kits for manufacture of new transformers.

Zimbabwe and Zent have been considering manufacturing aluminium transformers to reduce vandalism.

Drones are continuing to gain presence in a number of industries, with adoption rates for safety and security industry growing worldwide.

According to Freedonia Group, a leading international industrial research company, safety and security drone sales are expected to nearly double by 2019, reaching $250 million.

"Despite the initial hesitance among end users to adopt safety and security drones, sales for these products and services are expected to see stellar growth opportunities over the next several years. Over the short term, safety and security drone sales are expected to nearly double by 2019," the company said in its report on safety and security drones for 2019."

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