Power distributor Umeme connected 125,000 new customers to the grid in the 11 months to November 2021.This represents a 54% growth in new connections from 57,000 recorded in the same period in 2020.
“Of the 125,000 connected customers, 53,000 were self-funded and the remaining 72,000 through the Government subsidised programme Electricity Connections Policy (ECP). However, we still have challenges financing the Electricity Connections Policy. We have about 217,000 pending connection applications, requiring a funding of Shs224 billion,” Mr Selestino Babungi, Umeme’s Managing Director, told reporters at the utility’s end-of-year press briefing.
He disclosed that the company was completing capital investment of Shs125 billion in different projects such as a concrete line from Tororo to Mbale, a new substation in Entebbe, converting the remaining 17,000 post-paid consumers to prepaid metering, feeder line refurbishments, network automation and among others.
“We believe that government will provide new funding to clear the current connections backlog. We look forward to building on the 2021 momentum and the anticipated opening of the economy to have more prospective growth in 2022. This is on the back of 10% growth in electricity demand registered in 2021, with industrial and commercial demand growing at 11% and 12% respectively,” he explained.
Mr Babungi said the Utility will expand the grid to evacuate power to consumers and connect more premises to the grid to increase demand.
It also plans to complete the conversion of the remaining post-paid consumers to prepaid metering, which will improve revenue collection to sustain the electricity sector.
To improve the resolution of technical faults, it will complete Geospatial Network Information System (GNIS) project that is under implementation to map customers’ premises as well as electricity installations to the distribution grid for the ease of pro-active location of network faults.
Mr Babungi said to achieve this, the utility would require regulatory support.
“Provide adequate resources for Umeme to deliver on its customer needs and expectations, mainly reliability of supply and pending connections in 2022. Provide for the full recovery of costs to recognise shareholders investments,” Mr Babungi requested.
Reducing energy losses from 17.5% remains a top priority of the business. Our strategy is focussed on simultaneously tackling technical and commercial losses. Selestino, advised customers to desist from interfering with the network for their own safety and safety of the public. Customers should reach Umeme at the nearest service centre or through the digital channels.
To increase demand, Umeme continues to invest in synchronising its network to the transmission grid with the high load centres.
He welcomed the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) and the Government initiatives to grow demand through the pilot Industrial Parks tariff, cooking tariff and declining block tariffs for domestic users.
The cooking tariff is meant to encourage domestic and public entity consumers to move away from using gas and charcoal to using electricity for cooking.
“Research has shown that using electronic equipment like electronic pressure cookers (EPC) saves time and cooking costs by half as compared to when using other sources of energy like charcoal. We are working with the Regulator to see how we can ease ownership of appliances like cookers through appliance financing,” Mr Babungi added.
He said electricity demand underpins economic development and is fundamental in transforming the primary sector and driving the secondary and tertiary sectors of the economy.