Uganda’s electricity distributor, Umeme had the number of households connected to the grid go up by 14.8 per cent to 1.3 million customers,according to its latest financial statement for the year ended 2018.
“Over the seven year period to 2018, Umeme exceeded the regulatory customer base target by 0.3 million customers (30 per cent),”said the company’s Managing Director Celestino Babungi.
The increase was partly attributed to the new policy launched by government through the Rural Electrification Agency in which it rolled out a free electricity connection policy to customers in distances which require one or none poles.
“We have seen an increase in applications from 600 to 1000 per day since the introduction of the program,” said Umeme Chief Operations Officer, Florence Nsubuga.
Officials says despite an overall increase in the number of individual households for the distribution company, the biggest growth has been realized among industries.
Babungi attributed it to stability in the neighboring countries including Kenya, DR Congo and South Sudan where Uganda sells some of her goods.
“The number of goods we sell to those countries has increased and because industries are as good as markets, the production has gone up and a high production means more demand for electricity.”
The Umeme boss also commended government for its policy that encourages industrialization that he said has seen the demand for electricity go up due to a sprout out of a number of industries.
Meanwhile, officials said said they had reduced the power losses from 17.2 per cent in 2017 to only 16.6 per cent, a thing they said is good for both the industry adding that this had fallen from 27.3 per cent in 2011.
“We invested over US $60 million last year and one of the main drivers of the investment was reduction in power losses. We have invested in transformers which reduce technical losses and also in technology,”
said Umeme Chief Operations Officer, Nsubuga. She explained that because their biggest power consumers contribute to over 70 per cent of the Umeme sales, they cannot allow power to be
stolen adding that they have invested heavily in their biggest power consumers to close any gaps of power losses.
“We have installed the automated metre reading where we are able to detect in real time if an industry is stealing power. It is important we invest in large power users through technology.”