GOVERNMENT WILL RESUME FREE ELECTRICITY CONNECTION POLICY AFTER SECURING FUNDING -MINISTER D’UJANGA

By Our Special Writer

Government will resume the free electricity connection policy once funds are available , the State Minister of  Energy and Mineral Development , Eng. Simon D’Ujanga , has stated. Flanked by the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry , Mr. Robert Kasande , Eng. D’Ujanga clarified that the free electricity connection program has not been scrapped but rather suspended until government gets funding for the much yearned for services .

“Funding challenges emerged in the course of implementation of a new Electricity Connection Policy 2018. Government has agreed to allow customers who are able to pay for the service to pay as government continues to source more funds to enable those who are not able to pay access the services,” the Minister said.  

In terms of electricity access, Government’s target is to achieve national electrification rate of 60% by 2027, Mr. Kasande added while speaking to the media at the sidelines of the Ministry’s Performance Review 2020 meeting that was held at Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). The Electricty Regulatory Authority (ERA) released new connection fees that range between shs. 570,000 and Shs. 3.4M following a policy directive issued by Ministy of Energy that allowed financially capable customers to pay electricity connection after government  suspended the free Elecricity Connection Policy (ECP) due to lack of funds.

However ,in order to create a  competitive tariff to accelerate economic development and prosperity in the country, D’Ujanga said that government has put in place means to lower electricity tariffs starting with the tariff for manufacturers to make local goods competitive in the regional and global market.

“This is being done in a phased approach starting with Extra Large, Large, medium, commercial through to domestic and street lighting customer categories,” he added.

The  Ministerial Annual Review was attended by senior government officials and private sector players in the Energy sector who included ,Mr. Emmanuel  Freddie Mugunga the Ministry of Energy Under Secretary who is also the Accounting Officer .   

The  Minister explained that  refinancing of the  Bujagali dam project has  brought down the  tariff from US cents 12 to 8.5 cents. The target of 5 US Cents has been achieved during off-peak hours for extra large consumers.

“Government aims at gradually lowering the tariff for individual residential and social service centres such as schools, and Hospitals. We are promoting the development of industrial parks (increase industrialization) so that more power is consumed leading to lowering of the tariff,” he said..

In terms of Power Transmission capacity, the Ministry officials said the  total length of High Voltage grid coverage is now 2,442km up from 1,453 in 2016. Government has also commissioned electricity transmission substations with total transformation capacity of 440MVA. A number of other power transmission projects totaling over 1,300km and associated sub-stations are at various stages of development. 

The Minister said that the  East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project’s lifecycle will   create a record 10,000 jobs during the construction phase which will give Ugandans the opportunity to develop skills which are transferable to other sectors.

 In general, the oil and gas infrastructure projects are projected to create a combined total of 160,000 new jobs once the Final Investment Decision (FID) is made next year .   Government has also put in place a Local Content Policy to among others support the acquisition of skills, especially by the youth, in order to benefit from the opportunities in the oil and gas sector.

While highlighting the numerous achievements registered by the Ministry over the last financial year , PS Kasande said that the ministry has proudly  presided over a marked increase in the total national installed capacity of electricity  of 1,252.4 MW as of June 2019 out of  which 1,246.5MW supplies the main grid and 5.9MW is off the Main grid.

This include over 35 MW in installed capacity added thru commissioning of Sindila, Siti 2, Kyambura and Ndugutu Small HPPs.

“Construction of 600MW Karuma HPP advanced and overall project progress stands at 97.8% and the total domestic energy generation  was 4,362.99GWh in 2019 up from 4,037.46GWh in 2018,” Kasande said adding that 183MW Isimba HPP was commissioned in March 2019 and all four generator units are under full operation.  Construction of the Kayunga to Kamuli Public Bridge is 90% complete and is expected to be completed by the end of December 2020.

The PS further disclosed that the transmission network expanded by 13% to  2,989Kms as at end of Q1 2020/21 and attributed the increment to the  commissioning of the Kawanda-Kapeeka 132kV 52km T-line and energizing of the Opuyo – Lira section of the Tororo – Lira T-line.

He said that for the people of West Nile, construction of the 132kV Lira-Gulu-Nebbi-Arua transmission line planned to connect the region  to the national grid was launched on 25 October 2020 by  President Yoweri Museveni.

Several delegates at the event appreciated the steady progress registered by the Ministry of Energy and urged the top-honchos to increase the information dissemination  activities so the general public in informed about government’s development work in a timely manner .

MOSES SSERWANGA

Writer is a media and communications consultant And Advocate of the High Court of Uganda

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