Steady Progress: Umeme Tables Shs813 Billion Budget For 2021

Uganda’s main power distribution utility Umeme has tabled a $219 million (Shs813.2 billion budget) for 2021.

Of that, $119 million (Shs442.4 billion) will be for capital investments in the grid while $60m (Shs222.4bn) will cater for net operating costs.

The company says it will spend $2m (Shs6.6bn) on lease payments and the balance ($38m/Shs141.8bn) on an assortment of other items.

It will invest in the evacuation of Karuma and Acwa hydropower plants, on improving power supply and expand the network.

Additionally, the distributor will clear the backlog of 240,000 applications for connection, retrofit the 40,000 post-paid meters still in use.

In his opening remarks, Selestino Babungi, the Umeme managing director, said COVID19 has impacted the way the company does its business.

“2020 was a difficult year for us as a company. We had ambitions plans but COVID19 impacted us. However, we demonstrated resilience and as a company we say that electricity is a fundamental input into the economic transformation of this country so we came out strongly to continue putting in place systems so we continuity of supply and services to our customers,” he said.

Babungi said what the company proposed was anchored in the need to continue investing the distribution network to improve reliability, the quality of supply, evacuation of the Karuma upcoming power, boost the demand and uptake of increased generation and continue to support the government access agenda.

Umeme said it would continue providing them with Personal Protective Equipment, establish even more safety clubs in schools and clearing vegetation near power installations to ensure uninterrupted supply.

While presenting the company’s revenue requirement on Friday during a virtual application for tariff review, Blessing Nshaho, Umeme’s Chief Corporate and Regulatory Officer, said prospective electricity customers will soon be applying for connections online.

This would be for the convenience of customers.

It would also in line with standard operating procedures on minimising human contact where possible.

Presently, one should travel to the company’s office that serves his or her area to pick and fill application forms.

Nshaho said they have been testing the application system over the last couple of months.

Umeme’s Managing Director Selestino Babungi said the company has over the years invested in technology and has the capacity to connect many customers to the grid.

The company currently has 1.53 million customers, up from 292, 000 in 2005 when it Umeme started operating in Uganda.

Umeme said customers paying for no pole connections should expect to be connect within 10 days of receipt of their applications.

Those who will require poles will be connected within thirty days.

On December 7, the government allowed individuals who can meet the full cost of connections to pay for them.

The government said it had run short of funds to subsidise the connection costs for 00 prospective customers.

It said individuals who cannot pay the full connection charges should wait until the government finds the resources to subsidise the costs.

Power distribution utilities will now charge Shs741,188 for a no pole connection while a one pole service is between Shs2.3million and Shs2.7m depending on whether the cable used will be bare or not.

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