Umeme Ltd has assured the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) that power losses are to go down, while more people will be connected to the grid.
At a public hearing for the new performance targets for Umeme Limited for the next six years, Selestino Babungi, the managing director of Umeme, said the company had made increased energy sales and improved efficiency since it took over from Uganda Electricity Board (UEB) in 2005.
In March, Umeme applied for a modification of its license, specifically related to the performance parameters for the period March 2019 to March 2025. In the new application, Umeme said it is planning to increase the electricity network, boost energy sales, all of which should see end user tariffs paid by the public drop. This would ultimately reduce the costs of doing business.
“Through our strategic plan, we are planning for an increase of the electricity network from 39,000km to 58,177km, connections will move from the current 1.2 million customers to 2.7 million, and energy losses from the current 16.8 per cent to 14 per cent in 2025,” he said.
Babungi also explained that the utility company plans to increase electricity sales from 3,000 Gw/h to 4,800Gw/h by 2025. In the company’s application, Umeme Ltd wants energy loss targets to be at 15.2 per cent in 2019, 14.6 per cent by 2020, 14.35 per cent in 2023.
Umeme told the public hearing that attracted consumers, activist bodies and a representation from parliament at Imperial Royale hotel that collection rates have improved by more than 90 per cent, all mainly because of the introduction of prepaid metres (Yaka).
“We have invested a lot since 2005 and also I can tell you that our current power losses are the lowest in East Africa,” Babungi said.
The company said one of the tasks ahead is to curb power losses especially in upcountry stations such as Mbale and around the Kampala suburbs like Nakulabye.
Energy losses are mostly experienced in Mbale; standing at 41 per cent; Nakulabye 31 per cent; Najjanankumbi 27 per cent; and Masaka at 32 per cent. Areas like Mukono, Kampala metropolitan area and Kasese registered losses of below 10 per cent.
“We need stringent laws. There is a lot of vandalism going on and the penalties are just a joke. In Kenya, if a person is found vandalizing a power line, the fine is Kshs 1 million [About Shs 36 million], that is what we want,” he said.
Eng Ziria Tibalwa Waako, the chief executive officer at ERA, explained that comments from the public are useful in guiding ERA to take decisions on the how to modify Umeme Ltd’s license.
“This is a consultative process which is in line with the authority’s principle of transparency and ensuring stakeholders’ involvement in the process,” she said.