Power utility Umeme presents UGX813 billion budget for 2021During a virtual presentation on Friday, Blessing Nshaho, Umeme’s Chief Corporate and Regulatory Officer, said prospective electricity customers will soon be applying for connections online.
Umeme, Uganda’s main electricity distributor has announced a UGX813.2 billion ($219 million) budget for 2021 that among other things will cover the costs of clearing the backlog of 240,000 applications waiting for connection and retrofit the 40,000 post-paid meters still in use.
Some UGX442.4 billion ($119 million) will be for capital investments, including the evacuation of Karuma and Acwa hydropower plants and general improvements to the power supply and expansion of the network. Operating costs will take up UGX222.4 billion ($60 million).
In his remarks, the listed company’s managing director, Selestino Babungi said the Covid-19 pandemic has affected business. “Twenty twenty was a difficult year for us as a company. We had ambitious plans, but Covid-19 impacted us. However as a company, we demonstrated resilience and electricity being a fundamental input in the economic transformation of this country, we came out strongly continuing to put in place systems to maintain continuity of supply and services to our customers,” he said.
Babungi said what the company proposes is anchored in the need to continue investing in the distribution network to improve reliability, the quality of supply, evacuation of the Karuma upcoming power, boost the demand and uptake of increased generation and continue to support the government access agenda.
He said the company will continue providing Personal Protective Equipment wheneer necessary, establish even more safety clubs in schools and keep clearing vegetation near power installations to ensure uninterrupted supply.
In a virtual presentation on Friday, Blessing Nshaho, Umeme’s Chief Corporate and Regulatory Officer said prospective electricity customers will soon be applying for connections online. Not only would this be convenient, but also in line with the new standard operating procedures (SOPs) on social distancing. Nshaho said they have been testing the proposed system over the last couple of months.
Babungi said the company has over the years invested in technology and has the capacity to connect many customers to the grid. The company currently has 1.53 million customers, up from 292, 000 in 2005 when it Umeme started operating in Uganda.
Customers paying for no pole connections should expect to be connected within 10 days of receipt of their applications. Those who will require poles will be connected within 30 days. On December 7, the government allowed individuals who can meet the full cost of connections to pay for them. The government said it had run short of funds to subsidise the connection costs for prospective customers.
It said individuals who cannot pay the full connection charges should wait until the government finds the resources once again subsidise the costs. Currently, the charges are UGX741,188 for a no pole connection while a one pole service is between UGX2.3 million and UGX2.7 million depending on whether the cable used will be bare or not.