REA is a government institution formed in 2001 to facilitate the provision of electricity to rural areas
The term of office of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) current Executive Director Godfrey Turyahikayo came to an end on Wednesday, but the Ministry of Energy and Rural Development had not yet appointed his substantive replacement and neither is there a Board of Directors to guide the agency, the New Vision has learnt.
Outgoing REA Board Chairman who is also the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy Robert Kasande confirmed Turyahikayo one year extended term in office ended on Wednesday July 8, but declined to comment further.
The Minister of State for Energy Simon D'ujanga also confirmed Turyahikayo's exit from REA but noted that, he was on leave. "Please speak to the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development Grace Kitutu. She has the final say over the matter," D'ujanga said.
Efforts to get a comment from Kitutu proved futile as her phone went unanswered. Turyahikayo could also not be reached for a comment on his exit.
However, sources close to Kitutu noted that she had embarked on operationalizing the new Statutory Instrument after the High Court last month cleared her to enforce the new, Establishment and Management of the Rural Electrification Fund (REA) Instrument, S.I No. 62 of 2020 which scraps off the current Board and the position of Executive Director.
The instrument meant that the management structure in REA is to change and the position of the Executive Director scrapped off and instead replaced with that of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) competitively appointed by the new board.
The new CEO shall serve a term of five years and be reappointed for one more term and will be eligible for appointment if he or she is 55 years old or below on the first appointment and shall cease to hold office once he or she attains the age of 60 years.
REA is a government institution formed in 2001 to facilitate the provision of electricity to rural areas in an equitable and sustainable manner. REA was established as a result of the energy sector reforms which led to the enactment of the new Electricity Act, 1999. Turyahikayo has been the Executive Director since its inception in 2001.
Turyahikayo is credited with helping the Government achieve the central theme for the 2016 - 2021 NRM manifesto which is "taking Uganda to modernity through job creation and inclusive development" through extension of electricity supply.
To date, the Agency has realized the construction of about 15,000km of Medium Voltage (MV) power lines and over 10,000 km of Low Voltage (LV) distribution power lines. This has greatly contributed to the connections of over a million customers onto the national grid and an increment in the rural electrification access rate from 1% in 2001 to over 20% in 2020.
REA is also implementing the Electricity Connection Policy (ECP) that was approved by Government in January 2018. Under this policy, the Government subsidizes the cost of connection materials, enabling citizens that are ready for electricity consumption to access free connection materials. Over 300,000 connections are targeted annually.
In July last year, President Yoweri Museveni opposed plans by the then energy minister Irene Muloni and the REA board to sack Turyahikayo until investigations into corruption in the agency are concluded.
In his letter to Muloni dated July 8, 2019, Museveni made reference to his phone conversation with the minister and observed, "this is to direct you and the board that the status quo of the management of Rural Electrification Agency should be maintained for one year so that I conclude the investigations into the massive corruption there."
Museveni noted that he would not accept any changes at REA until investigations are concluded. The board had declined to renew Turyahikayo's contract on grounds that there had been a decline in the implementation of activities of the agency for the last four years.
Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) is yet to complete its investigations on REA and several top officials were recently asked to step aside.