Ugandan power distributor plans $155m improvements
December 15—Umeme Limited , Uganda’s main electricity distributor, is to invest $155 million during 2018 to among other things, refurbish old networks, build new power sub-stations and improve the network across the country.
“We have submitted our investment plan for the year 2018 to the Electricity Regulatory Authority for approval. Once the plan is approved then we shall embark on executing the projects as planned by the technical people at Umeme,” Sam Zimbe, the managing director told 256BN.
Umeme operates a 20-year electricity distribution concession effective March 1st 2005, from the government and the company is listed on both the Uganda Securities Exchange and Nairobi Securities Exchange.
Releasing its half year results to June 2017, Umeme reported a loss of about $13 million due to the government amending the terms of the concession which meant the company had to make provisions in case its appeal for redress fails. However revenues continued to rise, topping $200 million in the same period.
In the coming year, Umeme will also replace several wooden power transmission lines with concrete ones, something their Kenyan counterparts began doing four years ago. “We want to replace the wooden poles with concrete pole,s because wooden poles are prone to fire outbreaks in addition to that wooden poles are expensive and perishable. That is why we are considering using concrete poles which are more durable and cheaper in the long run,” Zimbe said.
On reducing power theft and increasing revenues, Umeme will be carrying out more public awareness on the disadvantages of illegal connectivity and also improve on enforcement similar to the successful outcomes seen in Eastern Uganda where these malpractices were formerly rampant.
Zimbe said, “Because of our enforcement exercise which we carried out in Bugisu regions, we managed to arrest and prosecute those found stealing power. As power distributor we are going to carry out a massive clampdown against illegal connectivity across the country.”
He said efforts to help the government keep up-to-date with utility payments is being done by installing pre-paid units across the different ministries and departments. “All Government agencies will be shifting to prepaid metering system. This will help us to close the loopholes in the postpaid metering system,” he said.