By Ibrahim Kasita
OVER 240,000 energy-saving bulbs worth sh1.2b have not been distributed for two years to the public as the Government had promised, raising concerns over the integrity and transparency in the distribution process.
The energy ministry in early 2006 received a $1.2m loan from the World Bank to procure 800,000 energy-saving bulbs for free distribution to the public.
The bulbs were delivered by a German bulb manufacturing firm, Osram, in 2007.
The bulbs were imported through Dembe Enterprises, local distributors of several commodities.
The energy ministry together with UMEME, the power distributor, contracted Yellow Pages, a courier firm to distribute the bulbs to households.
The exercise, which started in January 2007, was expected to end in April, 2007. It started in Kampala, Mukono, Entebbe and Wakiso and was supposed to spread to other major centres countrywide.
Each household was supposed to get three energy-saving bulbs to replace the ordinary ones.
The move was expected to save 45-50MW of electricity.
Between January 2007 and January 2008, a total of 550,000 bulbs were distributed in Kampala, Entebbe and Wakiso.
However, the energy ministry has failed to distribute the remaining 240,000 bulbs, which were reportedly lying at the Uganda Electricity Distribution Company stores in Lugogo, Kampala.
The energy ministry confirmed that 240,000 energy-saving bulbs were not distributed: â€œItâ€™s true we are still in possession of 240,000 bulbs,â€ said James Baanabe, the assistant energy commissioner in charge of energy efficiency.
â€œWe distributed 550,000 bulbs but we ran out of finances to continue with the distribution process.â€
Baanabe added: â€œWe are looking for financiers to support us so that we distribute them. When we get the money, we shall work with UMEME to ensure efficient distribution.â€
However, it emerged that there were some logistical problems that halted the exercise.
The Government is also reportedly reviewing Yellow Pages contract. To promote the campaign, taxes on the energy-saving bulbs, which included 25% import duty and 18% Value Added Tax, were scrapped, reducing their cost by nearly half.
A total of 30MW have been saved due to the distribution of the 550,000 energy-saving bulbs.
The demand for energy-savers, locally and internationally, has been growing because they lower energy demand and are environmentally-friendly. This has led to increase in prices of the bulbs.