Umeme Deputy Managing Director Sam Zimbe addresses stakeholders

The electricity distribution in Uganda under Umeme has grown from 250,000 customers in March 2005 to over 1,000,000 as of June 30, 2017 with the connections at an average of 13% per annum.

According to Umeme Deputy Managing Director, Sam Zimbe, the company targets to increase electricity penetration to 40 per cent by 2020.

Speaking during the 2018 Tariff Review Public Hearing at Imperial Royale Hotel, Mr. Zimbe also proposed the need to have a  uniform tariff for domestic customers, following several complaints of variation in computation of Yaka tokens by the public.

“The regulatory needs to review the lifeline tariff for all Domestic customers (Yaka user) and set a uniform standing charges” Mr. Zimbe said, adding this will help reduce end user tariffs. Introduction of energy rebate is also key especially for industrial customers, he added.

Further, Mr. Zimbe disclosed that the company had injected about US$ 1.5m in automated metering so as to improve metering and revenue cycle efficiency and, in terms of prepayment metering US$ 30m has been injected in new connections while US$ 10m has been chanelled to post-paid customer conversion.

“The prepayment has helped the company improve its revenue collection to 99% from 80% in 2005 hence reducing energy losses to 17.5% compared to 38% in 2005 when it took over the management of the distribution network,” Mr Zimbe said.

According to Mr. Zimbe, Umeme’s focus will continue to be on growth and efficiency related projects in readiness for the upcoming generation capacity.

Indeed, officials say that since Umeme won a 20-year concession to run and manage the electricity distribution network in 2005, there has been a huge turn round on the quality of service across the divide, a key indicator of the largely successful Public-Private Partnerships.

Umeme has also largely focused on capital investment, expansion of the grid, reduction in energy losses, rollout of prepaid metering, connections of new customers to the grid, and improved public safety.

Meanwhile, by mid-2017, US$99m had been invested in the network, and some of the key projects that were executed include the construction of a 40 MVA Moniko substation in Lugazi and Mbalala; the completion of Namugongo integration lines; the GetFit mini hydro project integration lines, the upgrade of Lugogo – Kibuli lines, and the refurbishment of lines in Kabale, Mukono and Pallisa. Others are the rollout of prepaid metering and upgrading Namanve Industrial Park; conversion of Government accounts to prepaid metering and the upgrade of power transformers across the country.