By Simon Turibamwe
The government of Uganda has been praised by the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) for her wise thinking to make reforms in the energy sector. Addressing the journalists at the media breakfast held at Golden Tulip Hotel in Kampala on Thursday afternoon, the Chief Executive Officer ERA, Eng. Ziria Tibalwa Wako said that the reforms have registered a number of achievements in transforming this country’s economy since 2000 when the regulatory body was operationalized. Some of the achievements registered after the reforms by the regulating body (ERA) include increment in supply ,generating more electricity, reduction in load shedding, blackouts, power losses of over 30%, effective bill payments (no outstanding bills for more than 60 days), introduction of Yaka and prepaid meters, consumer friendly tariffs, Zero and one pole connection cost, electricity connection policy (free power connection for consumers) and the newly introduced rebate policy.
Under the rebate policy consumers will be getting back part of their costs incurred during the connections. Ziria said that all the reforms targeted the village man to have access for electricity and is still following up the implementation which is the major reason behind the Electricity Connection Policy. She added that this will not stop at connecting people but will also make sure that the tariffs and billing are user friendly and that’s why they think that the 250 cost per unit is okay for any small electricity user. “At the cost of Shs250 per unit, someone is able to pay 10,000 for 15 units and watch his TV, listen to radio, charge a mobile phone and also enjoy light in his home,” said Ziria. According to Peter Kakeeto, the Manager Technical Compliance said that the free electricity connection has been embraced with 63000 customers connected since November 1st 2018 when it was launched and it targets to have connected at least 60% new users by 2027. He said that under this policy majority Ugandans will be connected and have access to electricity. He said that with free electricity everyone is a beneficiary since it will ease the services in health sector, Boosts industrialization as well as income generation at an individual level. Under this policy the pole planting fee has been eliminated while inspection fee reduced from Shs45,000-20,000. The customer is only required to get an electric wiring from a licensed technician and forwards his/her application for electricity to the supplier of choice. (Umeme, or any other company).
The ERA CEO and staff pledged that they will always be available for the media on any issue regarding electricity in the country. The media was also asked to do the same in order to move in the same direction on sensitizing and informing Ugandans on the electricity sector. “let’s work together in informing the public to embrace electricity policies and compliance,” said Ziria the CEO ERA.
She explained that some new technology like Yaka is being used but it seems not to have been understood by majority. She said that because of this people are always complaining that its expensive in billing costs something she refuted saying that it’s better than the old system.
She explained that: “People do not pay the exact cost used to pay for electricity used during the postpaid meter billing, choosing to pay almost a quarter but expect to use the same for a month and upon its expiration they say Yaka people are thieves which is not true.” She appealed to the media not to get tired in sensitizing the public against utility imposters who goes around tricking people to pay them money and help in cheating Yaka system. She revealed how she has been under pressure by manufacturers requesting to sale power in Dollars and refused to save the final consumer who would be inconvenienced since Dollar keeps on changing all the time and decided to continue billing in Cents. “Some of the manufacturers want power charged in Dollars but ERA will not allow dollarizing the electricity tariffs. Instead it will continue to charge in Cents.”
She also urged that the contracts that are perceived unmatching with the costs and what the profits are, should not be blamed on corruption or poor negotiations but on the situation of the country by the time contracts were signed. “Most of these contracts were determined by the situation in the country only that we have recovered but that’s what they reserved by the time of agreements,” said Ziria. She revealed how Uganda is the proudest country in Africa in terms of electricity generation and access being the only country where load shedding is almost history in majority towns. Uganda’s electricity is exported to Neighboring countries after ensuring enough supply to the local consumers. For comments, call or text us on 0752510225.