Uganda: Power Applications Drop Due to Freeze On Free Connections

20 January 2021

The number of people applying for electricity has dropped massively from 1,000 daily to an average of 127 after drastic increase in connection fees.

Data from Uganda's largest power distributor, Umeme, indicates that the company received only 3,945 applications between December and January 2021 from a monthly average of 30,000.

"To date, we have received about 3,945 applications and those that have paid, we have been able to connect 973 customers within a space of four days even when the regulatory days range between 10 and 15," Mr Peter Kaujju, the head of communications at Umeme told Daily Monitor.

Majority of the applicants requested for no pole connection, which means they already have a pole within connection distance and do not require a pole.

"Kampala west, Kampala central, Entebbe, Nakulabye, Nateete, Mpigi and Kabalagala recorded a total of 189 applications of which 181 did not require a pole while the rest did," Umeme noted.

The applications were mainly from Kampala central followed by north eastern region and the western region.

Umeme which supplies 95 per cent of the country's grid connected customers said the provision of self-financing was critical to satisfy demand requirements of clients, especially those in real estate and reduce energy losses stemming from illegal connections.

However, data from other distributors around the country, especially those in rural areas, who were the primary focus of the subsidised connection costs under the electricity connections policy (ECP), paints a grim image.

According to the 2018/19 Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited (UEDCL) annual report, the company had connected 14,192 customers by June 2019 under ECP.

Currently, distributors in rural areas are receiving about 50 applications per month under the self- financing model with the new approved payment structure for connection.

The drop in applications for electricity comes after government in December amended the electricity connections policy to permit self-financing for power connections.

The amendment also saw the electricity regulator approve new connection costs, which were much higher than previously.

The new approved costs dictate that an applicant, for instance seeking connection through Umeme pays Shs720,883 for a no-pole connection while those seeking one pole bare conductor connection pay Shs2.3m.

Applicants seeking one-pole with insulated conductor are required to pay Shs2.7m for a connection.

Slow down

The ECP was amended to allow government time search for funds for the project. Mr Robert Kasande, the Energy permanent secretary, said the government is still working with the World Bank and Ministry of Finance to secure a loan for the project.

"We are working with the World Bank and ministry of finance to structure a loan for ECP. I cannot comment about the figure as we are still in the structuring process of the loan," he noted.

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