Power distributors UMEME
Limited are courting Members of
Parliament to allocate them funds to connect
300,000 prospective customers whose applications are still pending following the expiry of the free connection policy.
In 2008, the government with a loan from the World
Bank launched the free Electricity Connection Policy-ECP to increase power
connectivity in the country
by subsidizing the connection fees. Under
the free ECP, customers that required no pole were asked to only pay inspection
fees of Shs98,000,
while those that required one pole would only pay Shillings 360,000 for connecting to the power grid.
UMEME has now run to the MPs begging to them to allocate funds for the continuity of the program, whose activities
were barely funded in the government’s
priorities for this financial year. Florence Nsubuga, the UMEME
Chief Operations Officer, says they need at least Shillings 500 billion to connect applicants whose applicants were
processed before the ECP funding got depleted.
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She adds that on a daily basis, the company receives at least 600 applications for new connections but the majority of the applicants can hardly meet the associated costs under the
Customer Funded Connection-CFC policy, which the government-sanctioned towards the end of last year.
Nsubuga indicates that as they wait on the government to secure another possible funder
for the subsidized connection program, it is important that MP are aware of the underlying need such that they can
deliberate on possibilities of funding the program from the local revenue basket.
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According to the approved CFC costing list issued by UMEME, a
domestic customer intending to get connected is required to pay Shillings 741, 188 for a no-pole connection below 35
meters from the power line while those that require one pole are charged
between Shillings 2.38million
Isaac Katewanga, the UMEME Manager in Charge of Western
Uganda indicates that policy has largely benefited well earning customers who
contribute just a small fraction of the general population that needs power.
He says that through
the Customer Funded Connection-CFC policy they have only managed to connect 2,700 customers, which
leaves a big gap that needs to be closed through deliberate interventions that
subsidize the cost of connectivity.
Joseph Ssewungu, the Member of Parliament for
Kalungu West challenged UMEME that while they press for more funding from the government to increase connectivity, it is also
high time they addressed the problem of affordability of power by cutting their tariffs.
At the moment, the cost of electricity in Uganda is among the highest in Africa in terms of
connection fees and final consumer tariffs. Customers are charged between Shillings 751 per unit for domestic consumption and Shillings 370 for big industrial
The cost partly drags Uganda’s pursuit to achieve
the seventh Sustainable Development Goal-SDG that seeks to have universal
access to electricity by 2030.