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Tuesday,October 27,2020 11:44 AM

UMEME probe was long overdue

By Vision Reporter

Added 8th July 2009 03:00 AM

The resignation of the Umeme boss may be the starting point of unearthing the long-held fears of the inefficiency of the company. Four years down the road, 34% of the total electricity production is lost in theft and technical problems, compared to 20% i

The resignation of the Umeme boss may be the starting point of unearthing the long-held fears of the inefficiency of the company. Four years down the road, 34% of the total electricity production is lost in theft and technical problems, compared to 20% i

Sostine Ngabirano

The resignation of the Umeme boss may be the starting point of unearthing the long-held fears of the inefficiency of the company. Four years down the road, 34% of the total electricity production is lost in theft and technical problems, compared to 20% in our neighbouring Kenya and Tanzania.

With sh92b subsidy injected annually by the Government to keep the power tariffs low, a comparison shows that Uganda’s power tariffs remain the highest in the region with a domestic consumer paying sh62 per unit for the first 15 units after which it is raised to sh426 per unit.

On the contrary Kenya charges sh38 per unit for the first 50 units and between sh166 and sh345 per subsequent units.

Does Umeme have the will and desire to modernise the sector or is it here to make money? I bet the latter is true. If they can charge unjustifiably high tariffs and make more profits, that is what any business needs anyway.

Otherwise, how can we inject sh368b to reduce power tariffs only to end up with the highest tariffs in the region?

The Electricity Act established the National Electricity Regulation Authority (ERA) purposely to establish a tariff structure and to investigate tariff charges. Should we believe that ERA has not heard the public outcry regarding the biting power tariffs?

ERA does not have any independent information or carry out independent evaluation of how much money Umeme spends.
Umeme officers poorly handle consumers. Most times customers line up in long queues with unexplainable bills waiting to see a single cashier. Umeme customer care is pathetic and one wonders if they can manage our power sector.

Our national power regulators are doing a substandard job. It is surprising that the Uganda National Bureau of Standards will question the quality of meters used by Umeme before ERA recognises the problem.

The current probe comes at an opportune time and deserves support. The check should go beyond the basics and uproot the inefficiencies and the mismanagement of the power sector. Otherwise, hopes of reduced power tariffs remain very faint.
The writer is an Intern with the Africa Institute for Energy Governance

UMEME probe was long overdue

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