The Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Pius Bigirimana on Thursday failed to make it to the board of Umeme as a non-executive member.
The company’s shareholders refused to support him during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) that was held at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel.
Mr Bigirimana was nominated by the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) to be a member of the Board of Directors on April 15, 2018. Bigirimana sits on the Board of the NSSF which is the largest shareholder in Umeme at 23.2 per cent with 376.32 million shares of the total 1.62 billion shares.
Meanwhile besides Bigirimana, shareholders voted new faces to the board. They include; Anthony Marsh, Andrew Buglass, Stephen Emasu and Reccardo Ridolfi. Umeme has 5,600 shareholders as at December 31, 2018.
When tasked to explain why shareholders could not support Bigirimana, the Umeme Board Chairman, Patrick Bitature said it was the shareholders’ right to vote or not to support a nominee to the board that accommodates over 10 members.
However, one of the shareholders this reporter talked to said that majority of the members rejected Bigirimana because they felt he is aloof of the energy sector as well as being a top government servant. “We did not see the value he would add to the company,” said a shareholder who preferred to remain anonymous.
The rejection of Bigirimana means no government official is on the board of the company that is listed both on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE) and Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).
However Bitature said Bigirimana still has a chance to join the board if he is nominated again and voted for during next year’s AGM.
That aside, shareholders, based on the company’s financial performance in 2017 approved that they receive Shs7.6 as dividend per share but that will be less than Shs7.8 they received per share in the year 2016.
The company will deposit that money on shareholders’ bank accounts or mobile money accounts in early July. The company has set aside about Shs12 billion for this purpose. But only shareholders who will be in the books of the company at close of business on June 20, 2018 will get the dividend. But the shareholders will have to pay withholding tax.
Marie Nassiwa, the Chief Financial Officer while going through the financials of the company in 2017 said management was committed to bringing down energy costs which stood at 17.2 per cent in 2017. She said the company would invest in improving the quality and reliability of supply of electricity.
She said customers increased by 18.3 per cent during the year to 1,125,291, with an additional 174,477 grid connections compared to 157,270 in 2016.
Meanwhile Bitature has said that Umeme is to invest billions of shillings in the distribution network as it readies itself to supply electricity from Karuma and Isimba hydropower dams. The company is running a 20-year concession since 2005. Part of the money will go to buying transformers.