Umeme Seeks Review Of Free Electricity Connection Policy

Uganda’s Power Distributor, Umeme Limited has proposed a revision of the Electricity Connections Policy (ECP) to allow capable customers shoulder the full payment for connection since government ran short of funds for the policy.

Speaking during a briefing organised by the power distributor, Mr Selestino Babungi, the Umeme managing director, said the energy sector is in the process of reviewing the Electricity Connections Policy.

“The original policy which we have proposed to be revised didn’t put a safety valve saying if you can afford, do not wait. There is a likelihood that they [government]will open that valve such that those who can, and there are many who can, should not wait for government. They should pay,” he said.

Government at the end of 2018 launched ECP with the view of subsidising last mile electricity connection to connect more than 300,000 customers annually.
The project was created because of complaints by customers of high power connection fees charged by power distributors, which range from between Shs98,000 and Shs2m.

Under ECP, customers pay only Shs20,000 for inspection while government caters for the rest of the connection fees.

However, the 10-year project spearheaded by Rural Electrification Agency hit some headwinds earlier this year after running out of money.

The $700m (Shs2.6 trillion) project was meant to be financed by a consortium of international donors and government but, according to the policy document, some donors had committed only $80m funding at the time.

In June, Umeme said there were pausing connections under the Electricity Connections Policy due to failure by government to pay $25m for 105,412 connections out of the 244,307 target valued at $57m, made by May, 2020.

Makes case for project

The Minister for Energy, Mary Goretti Kitutu recently said it makes no sense to boast of having too much electricity when many people, especially in rural areas, are still living in darkness.

“I am told there is so much power which we are not using. As a minister, this is a big challenge and I warn I will not read such statements that we have too much power when many people are still in darkness,”Kitutu said during the launch of the Electronic Database and Information Management System (EDIMS) by the Rural Electrification Agency early this year.

“One can have a big challenge answering that question on why there is still darkness when we have too much power.”

Government has always boasted of a presence of too much electricity produced by the various dams around the country.

The Electronic Database and Information Management System will help monitor areas that are connected to electricity but also help the ministry with easy access to reliable data for purposes of research and planning.

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