Posts tagged as: umeme

Jinja Stuck With Shs 1.3bn Street Lights Bill

Jinja municipality is stuck with an accumulated power bill worth Shs 1.3 billion.

Rajab Kitto, the spokesman, Jinja municipality, says the bill has been accumulating over the last five years.

Local authorities are mandated to clear power bills using collections from local revenue. He says the failure to clear the power bill, prompted Umeme to disconnect street lights plunging the municipality into total darkness.

According to Kitto, they are unable to raise sufficient local revenue to clear the bill.

“Of course you are aware that Umeme cut off its power and demands us a lot of money, which is about 1.3 billion. Unless people pay, there is no way we are going to pay that money. We are not in position to pay”, he said.

Majid Batambuze, the mayor Jinja municipality and chairperson Urban Authorities Association, says municipalities unable to sustain street lighting because of the heavy power bills. He wants government to direct power suppliers to incur the cost of streetlights across the country.

“These urban councils collect less revenue and yet they have a lot of other costs to meet. Street lighting is a very expensive venture. If the government can direct the power suppliers to incur the cost of the street lighting before being contracted, then the problem would be solved,” he said.

He however, says most urban council leaders are opting from solar powered streetlights, which don’t have monthly bills.

Uganda

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Slow Economic Growth Eats Into Power Firm Umeme’s Profits

By Jonathan Adengo

Kampala — Weak economic growth has affected power utility Umeme’s net profit which fell by 6 per cent according to the recently released financial results for 2016.

Umeme registered a net profit after tax of Shs100b in 2016 down from Shs106b in 2015 on account of slowed economic growth due to the high commercial lending rates and the election period.

Speaking during the release of its 2016 full year results at the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE) in Kampala last week, Mr Selestino Babungi, the Umeme chief executive officer (CEO), said there was a significant reduction in sales of electricity in the industrial subsector.

Energy losses averaged 19.0 per cent compared to 19.5 per cent in 2015. This is below the regulatory energy target of 16 per cent.

He said the company invested $93 million (about Shs334.8 billion) in the distribution network in 2016 which increased its total network investment to $500 million (about Shs1.8 trillion ) since the start of the concession.

“The $93 million invested over the period focused on network expansion and restoration, new connections and rollout of prepaid metering,” he said.

The key projects implemented during the year include Moniko substation, upgrading Kampala Industrial Business Park in Namanve, new connections, network expansion and reinforcement, upgrade of power transformers and conversion of government of Uganda accounts to prepaid metering. Mr Babungi also said the newly completed 40MVA substation in Moniko will power industries in the Mbalala and Lugazi areas.

Uganda

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Uganda: World Bank Lauds Uganda On Energy Sector Improvements

Photo: The Observer

President Museveni commissioning power supply in Nakitoma.

By Alon Mwesigwa

A World Bank study has singled out Uganda and Seychelles as the two countries with the most efficient power utilities in sub-Saharan Africa.

The 2017 study, which surveyed 39 sub-Saharan countries, compared cash collected from bills sent out with the total costs of supply–broken down into operational and capital expenditures–per kilowatt hour (kWh) billed.

“The findings show that only Seychelles and Uganda fully covered both operational and capital expenditures,” said the report, noting that it did not take into account system expansion.

Poor performance of utility firms has an impact on the power output, which could mean the country could be receiving less power than the installed capacity in place, ultimately leading to rationing.

Inefficient utilities are said to suffer from transmission and distribution losses, bill collection losses, and overstaffing. These prevent power distributors from delivering reliable electricity to existing customers, let alone expand supply to new consumers.

Power distributor Umeme says it has reduced technical and distribution losses to 19 per cent from the highs of 35 per cent around 2008. It targets to reach 14 per cent by the end of 2018.

The study titled Making Power Affordable for Africa and Viable for Its Utilities, will be presented at the utilities CEO forum at the coming African Utility Week in Cape Town from May 16 to 18.

“Less than half of utilities cover operating expenditures while several countries lose in excess of $0.25 per kWh sold. In this context, it will be difficult for utilities to maintain existing assets, let alone facilitate the expansion needed to reach universal access goals,” said World Bank’s director of energy and extractive global practice Lucio Monari in a statement.

The report also found that Uganda was one of those that did not suffer from underpricing. “They have the fiscal space to charge better-off, large-consumption customers more and cross-subsidize needy households.”

Researchers found that in most countries, unmetered consumption is concentrated in large consumers such as factories and others who are able to pay cost-reflective tariffs.

By Uganda targeting better-off, large-volume consumers, significant loss reduction is possible with little loss of welfare. Also, pre-paid metering has been key in ensuring that Umeme is able to reduce on the number of defaulters.

“Households on prepaid plans do not risk disconnection for failure to pay and avoid reconnection fees, which can be considerable in some countries,” the report noted, warning, however, that “prepaid meters should not be made mandatory if grid electricity is unreliable, lest customers pay cash in advance for electricity they cannot get when they need it.”

At least 15 per cent of the population in Uganda is connected to the grid and five per cent on off grid sources, according to the 2014 census. The World Bank also lauded Uganda’s initiative to attract smaller independent power projects (IPPs) investments, “including the innovative competitive bids for small hydropower, biomass, and solar projects solicited under the global energy transfer feed-in tariff (GETFiT) program”.

This was developed jointly by the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) and the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW, German Development Bank).

“After South Africa, Uganda has the largest number of IPPs in sub-Saharan Africa and the only other competitively bid grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) program,” the report said.

The biggest challenge for Uganda remains the high power tariff, which many poor households are unable to pay. With an estimated annual increase in demand of 10 to 12 per cent through 2020, and higher beyond, Uganda needs to embark on proactive planning for additional generation capacity, the World Bank advised.

Karuma and Isimba dams’ coming online by 2020 will curtail the shortage crisis that might have come due to increased demand.

Uganda: Minister Kyambadde Links High Electricity Tariffs to Liberalisation

By Nelson Wesonga

Kampala — Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde has said it was a mistake to liberalise the electricity sector in Uganda.

Ms Kyambadde said many manufacturers are now being weighed down by high end-user electricity tariffs.

She becomes the second member of the Cabinet after President Museveni to regret the adoption of the policy.

Before the government liberalised the sector in the early 2000s, large manufacturers paid about Shs100 per unit compared to the Shs370.2 per unit they pay now.

This therefore has been linked to the higher costs of the manufacturers’ goods compared to goods manufactured in Tanzania, where the government controls the electricity distribution business.

“We have made mistakes. Number one, over-liberalisation or privatisation of our utilities, for example, energy and telecoms,” Ms Kyambadde said.

“[Now] you find the industries cannot afford to pay for the energy. I think we need to have a PPP (Public Private Partnership).”

Ms Kyambadde was speaking during a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Uganda dialogue about promoting Sustainable Industrialisation in Uganda on Tuesday.

Earlier, Dr Arkebe Equbay, the Special Adviser to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, attributed Ethiopia’s very end-user power tariff to the government’s ownership of the generation, transmission and distribution utilities.

“Transmission and distribution is 100 per cent state-owned. It has to be because we cannot subsidise priority sectors if transmission and distribution is not under the government,” Dr Equbay said.

The liberalisation of Uganda’s electricity sector came on the heels of the World Bank’s recommendation.

The bank argued – in the late 1990s – that the Uganda Electricity Board (UEB), which was in charge of electricity generation, transmission and distribution, was inefficient.

It was against this backdrop that the government ‘unbundled’ UEB into three entities, Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL), the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) and the Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited (UEDCL).

UEGCL and UEDCL, however, concessioned the generation and distribution businesses respectively to Eskom Uganda and Umeme Uganda Limited respectively.

Yesterday, Uganda’s Prime Minister, Rukuhana Rugunda, said many African countries could not resist the liberalisation wave.

“The ‘wind’, often, was too powerful. If you tried to resist the wind, it would sweep you [away],” Dr Rugunda said.

“Some of you remember how Dr Suruma had to be dismissed from the chairmanship/managing director of the Uganda Commercial Bank because he was resisting the privatisation of that bank.”

Dr Rugunda commended the Ethiopians ‘for saying no to external forces and determing their own destiny’.

In 2012, Parliament recommended that the government terminates the Umeme and Eskom concessions.

The 20-year concessions, according to the agreements, will expire in the mid 2020s.

Parliament argued that the process of settling on the two companies was questionable.

The government has never implemented the recommendation.

For the case of Umeme, Energy minister Irene Muloni reasoned then that there is no other company that could manage the power distribution network.

She added that the termination of the concessions would keep away investors.

Uganda: Govt Reduces Power Tariffs

Photo: The Observer

Electricity lines in Uganda.

By Ali Twaha

For the second quarter of 2017, households will spend less for each unit of power, the Electricity Regulatory Authority has announced.

According to the second quarter tariff adjustment from ERA, the electricity tariff for households that consume more than the 15th unit in a month will pay Shs 687.1 per unit, down from the Shs 696.9, translating into a 1.4 per cent deduction from what they paid for in the first quarter.

The quarterly tariff adjustment methodology provides for adjustment of the annual base tariff in line with changes in inflation, foreign exchange rate and fuel prices. Information from ERA indicates that the local shilling, a key parameter in the determination of the tariff, appreciated against the dollar.

“The Uganda shilling appreciated by 1.2 per cent against the United States dollar from Shs 3,630.22 in the base period to Shs 3,586.69 as at the end of February 2017,” ERA said in a statement.

The appreciation of the local unit has been attributed to subdued corporate dollar demand, sizable export proceeds and continued remittances associated with activities of non-governmental organizations, according to Bank of Uganda.

The commercial consumer’s tariff was lowered from Shs 629.0/kWh to Shs 620.9/kWh while the medium industries tariff was reduced from Shs 577.8/kWh to Shs 569.7/kWh. The large industrial tariff saw a 6.1 per cent reduction to Shs 370.2/kWh from Shs 376.3 that they paid in the first quarter.

According to ERA, the adjustment factors shall be applicable at peak, shoulder and off-peak times. Umeme is required to collect revenues from customers based on prevailing tariffs set by ERA. Umeme makes its money through the tariff.

According to Umeme’s 2016 financial statement, the demand for power has increased relatively. Of the 950,814 it has, at least 157,270 customers were connected on pre-paid meters in 2016.

However, the statements indicate that the power distributer recorded a decline in net profit last year. This was attributed to the high cost of financing during the year in review.

“Finance costs increased 30.6 per cent to Shs 69.3bn [from Shs 53.1bn the previous year] owning to increased borrowing from the long-term financing to meet our capital expenditure needs,” the statement reads in part.

Uganda Manufacturers Association, which consumers about 70 per cent of the electricity distributed, has always complained about the high power tariffs. President Museveni has promised that tariffs will drop once the 600MW Karuma power dam and the 185MW Isimba dam are complete.

Uganda

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How Power Outages Starve Small Businesses

analysisBy Nelson Wesonga

Fred Ssalongo, a barber in Kyaliwajjala Trading Centre, Wakiso District, says he makes on average Shs50,000 a day from clipping men’s hair.

Of that, Shs8,300 covers a day’s rent for the space he uses to conduct business. Shs2,000 covers one day’s prepaid electricity units.

Of late, he has also started factoring in his expenses the cost of fuel for a diesel generator.

Where Ssalongo would buy three prepay units of electricity, he has to buy four litres of diesel.

With each litre of diesel costing Shs3,000, Ssalongo ends up spending Shs10,000 more on powering his barber’s shop on a day when there is a power outage.

For one month now, power outages have been punctuating supply. Some of the outages are transient, lasting for a few seconds.

Blackouts, on the other hand, go on for minutes, and in extreme cases, hours. On rare occasions they could even take days. The third type of outage is a brownout, symptomised by the dimming of lights when more electrical appliances in houses are switched on.

To explain the current outages, this newspaper spoke to some of the players in the power supply chain.

Bujagali hydropower plant’s general manager, Mr John Berry, says the plant is operating well, and, thus, is not the source of the faults causing the outages.

“I suggest you speak to UETCL [the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited] and ERA [the Electricity Regulatory Authority]. They would know better,” Berry adds.

Bujagali hydropower plant generates about 50 percent of the electricity fed to the national grid.

We blame it on the rain?

UETCL’s chief executive officer, Mr William Kiryahika, attributes the outages to rain. Rain, he says, conducts electricity.

Therefore to protect electricity users from electrocution and the electrical gadgets from damage, many electricity feeders are programmed to automatically switch off power supply during either downpours or storms, Mr Kiryahika, an engineer, says.

However, that explanation does not explain why supply to some of the areas being rained on is not interrupted whereas to others it is.

The reason, says an engineer who requests not to be named to speak freely, is that the areas that do not experience outages even when it rains have durable poles or quality assets.

“It could also be that the power lines in the unaffected areas are either strong or they were recently rehabilitated,” the engineer adds.

Last year electricity distributor Umeme announced that it would spend Shs7.8 billion to replace 9,000 power poles on electricity distribution across select districts in the country, including Mityana, Kampala, Mbale, Nakaseke, Ntungamo and Bubulo.

The poles, the distributor said, were over 28 years old and rotting. Electricity users in Ntungamo District had then spent days without electricity after a number of poles fell, cutting cables and disconnecting supply in the process.

As of December 2015, Umeme managed an 18,000 – kilometre long low voltage distribution line that connected electricity to an estimated 810,923 consumers, which should since have increased.

Before the promise to replace poles, Umeme had in 2012 considered plans to replace the wooden poles with concrete ones, with Umeme’s managing director Joseph Katera then observing that it had become costly to sustain the use of wooden poles.

He said the company was incurring huge expenses in procuring creosote, the chemical used in treating the wooden poles. Mr Katera said then that the delay in shifting to the use of concrete poles had been due to the fear that it could be more expensive than wooden poles, which fear he said had dissipated after realising that concrete poles were ideal in the long run because they last longer and do not deplete forests.

Before 2012, Uganda’s then constrained demand for electricity exceeded generation capacity.

Consequently, the distribution utilities rationed electricity supply to many areas. In extreme cases, some areas could go for 48 hours without electricity supply.

But following the commissioning of the 250-megawatt Bujagali Hydropower Plant in October 2012, power generation and supply exceeded Uganda’s demand, and then there was supposed to be a surplus.

So, the authorities announced, that marked ‘the end of power rationing’.

Unfortunately, power outages seem to have picked up from where power rationing stopped. And many an electricity user is voicing their displeasure.

According to the February 2017 Consumer Complaints Report by the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), 22.2 percent of the 63 consumer complaints the authority received were about service interruption, up from 21 percent the month before.

Relatedly, though it came earlier, the National Small Business Survey Report 2015 says that 33 percent of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in Uganda experience power outages lasting upwards of five hours.

The report says electricity outages are one of the constraints to the growth of MSMEs.

The victims

Mr Richard Sserwadda, a miller in Lubaga, Kampala, says his mill processes 100 kilogrammes of maize flour every six minutes.

In other words, for every hour electricity is off, his output is reduced by 1, 000kg of flour.

Most of the interruptions in power supply catch him, like many others, unawares.

Section 77 (7) of the Electricity Act, 1999, provides that the licensed power distributor will inform consumers – 24 hours early – of planned outages.

Umeme, the major power distribution company does this, through advertisements in newspapers, some radio stations and, of recent, the social networking sites Twitter and Facebook.

But then, there are also unplanned outages, which Umeme takes, albeit understandably long, to inform the consumers about.

ERA has now drawn up quality of standards for the electricity supply industry, which require utilities to inform consumers about unplanned outages within two hours of their occurrence.

ERA says it will monitor compliance starting July.

Still on the subject of power outages, Section 77 (8) of the Electricity Act entitles electricity consumers to prompt, fair and adequate compensation for loss sustained.

The rider, in sub-section 9, is that the compensation can only be paid where a consumer lodges a written claim with the distributor.

The claim must be filed within six months of one learning of the act that gave rise to the claim for which compensation is being sought.

A tribunal determines the matter

We could not pose this and other questions to Umeme since the company is “reluctant to reignite media attention”.

Umeme’s stakeholder relations manager, Mr Stephen Ilungole, though urges customers whose power supply is interrupted to immediately get in touch with Umeme.

“Our technical team is on standby and ready to respond to these emergencies,” Mr Ilungole said. “Our customers should bear with us as we attend to the faults.”

One of the long term solutions that some experts in the field have in the past suggested to reduce power outages to the minimum include investing in insulated cables.

Such cables would minimise contact between water, falling tree branches and the electricity cables.

And that would minimise the chances of short circuiting incidents.

Mr Ilungole says Umeme would be happy to undertake ‘any form of investment that would ensure the customers enjoy a world-class experience’.

“But you know for sure that ERA approves every bit of our investments,” he added.

ERA’s manager consumer and public affairs, Mr John Julius Wandera, says the regulator is mindful of the impact of amounts utilities invest in the network on electricity consumers.

“The regulator welcomes continued investment in strengthening the network,” Mr Wandera says.

“But the investments come at a cost; they end up in the tariff. In other words, the consumers would have to pay for it.”

Suggestions on curbing outages

In 2014, ERA’s then director of technical regulation, Ms Ziria Tibalwa Waako, articulated the various ways utilities could reduce the prevalence of power outages.

Through the 2014 in-house newsletter, Ms Ziria, who is now ERA’s chief executive officer, suggested that the utilities should continuously upgrade their electricity systems to keep pace with better technologies.

She said they should install animal guards around ground – mounted electrical equipment to protect against short circuits caused by animals.

Ms Tibalwa further suggested they install lightning arresters around the installations to provide a harmless path [for the lightning charge], which cause electrical surges, from the installation to the ground.

Whatever amount Umeme and Bujagali get regulatory approval for to invest in power distribution and generation, they are entitled to 20 and 19 per cent return on investment, respectively.

Back to Ssalongo, whenever he uses a generator, he increases the charge per customer from Shs3, 000 for a haircut to Shs 4,000 to cover the extra expenses on energy.

“I could have charged Shs2, 000 more but that would scare away many prospective customers,” Ssalongo says.

On his part, Mr Sserwadda says some medium-sized factories could consider buying 500-kilovolt generators to use whenever there is an interruption in electricity supply.

“But they would need fuel.”

Uganda: How Power Outages Starve Small Businesses

analysisBy Nelson Wesonga

Fred Ssalongo, a barber in Kyaliwajjala Trading Centre, Wakiso District, says he makes on average Shs50,000 a day from clipping men’s hair.

Of that, Shs8,300 covers a day’s rent for the space he uses to conduct business. Shs2,000 covers one day’s prepaid electricity units.

Of late, he has also started factoring in his expenses the cost of fuel for a diesel generator.

Where Ssalongo would buy three prepay units of electricity, he has to buy four litres of diesel.

With each litre of diesel costing Shs3,000, Ssalongo ends up spending Shs10,000 more on powering his barber’s shop on a day when there is a power outage.

For one month now, power outages have been punctuating supply. Some of the outages are transient, lasting for a few seconds.

Blackouts, on the other hand, go on for minutes, and in extreme cases, hours. On rare occasions they could even take days. The third type of outage is a brownout, symptomised by the dimming of lights when more electrical appliances in houses are switched on.

To explain the current outages, this newspaper spoke to some of the players in the power supply chain.

Bujagali hydropower plant’s general manager, Mr John Berry, says the plant is operating well, and, thus, is not the source of the faults causing the outages.

“I suggest you speak to UETCL [the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited] and ERA [the Electricity Regulatory Authority]. They would know better,” Berry adds.

Bujagali hydropower plant generates about 50 percent of the electricity fed to the national grid.

We blame it on the rain?

UETCL’s chief executive officer, Mr William Kiryahika, attributes the outages to rain. Rain, he says, conducts electricity.

Therefore to protect electricity users from electrocution and the electrical gadgets from damage, many electricity feeders are programmed to automatically switch off power supply during either downpours or storms, Mr Kiryahika, an engineer, says.

However, that explanation does not explain why supply to some of the areas being rained on is not interrupted whereas to others it is.

The reason, says an engineer who requests not to be named to speak freely, is that the areas that do not experience outages even when it rains have durable poles or quality assets.

“It could also be that the power lines in the unaffected areas are either strong or they were recently rehabilitated,” the engineer adds.

Last year electricity distributor Umeme announced that it would spend Shs7.8 billion to replace 9,000 power poles on electricity distribution across select districts in the country, including Mityana, Kampala, Mbale, Nakaseke, Ntungamo and Bubulo.

The poles, the distributor said, were over 28 years old and rotting. Electricity users in Ntungamo District had then spent days without electricity after a number of poles fell, cutting cables and disconnecting supply in the process.

As of December 2015, Umeme managed an 18,000 – kilometre long low voltage distribution line that connected electricity to an estimated 810,923 consumers, which should since have increased.

Before the promise to replace poles, Umeme had in 2012 considered plans to replace the wooden poles with concrete ones, with Umeme’s managing director Joseph Katera then observing that it had become costly to sustain the use of wooden poles.

He said the company was incurring huge expenses in procuring creosote, the chemical used in treating the wooden poles. Mr Katera said then that the delay in shifting to the use of concrete poles had been due to the fear that it could be more expensive than wooden poles, which fear he said had dissipated after realising that concrete poles were ideal in the long run because they last longer and do not deplete forests.

Before 2012, Uganda’s then constrained demand for electricity exceeded generation capacity.

Consequently, the distribution utilities rationed electricity supply to many areas. In extreme cases, some areas could go for 48 hours without electricity supply.

But following the commissioning of the 250-megawatt Bujagali Hydropower Plant in October 2012, power generation and supply exceeded Uganda’s demand, and then there was supposed to be a surplus.

So, the authorities announced, that marked ‘the end of power rationing’.

Unfortunately, power outages seem to have picked up from where power rationing stopped. And many an electricity user is voicing their displeasure.

According to the February 2017 Consumer Complaints Report by the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), 22.2 percent of the 63 consumer complaints the authority received were about service interruption, up from 21 percent the month before.

Relatedly, though it came earlier, the National Small Business Survey Report 2015 says that 33 percent of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in Uganda experience power outages lasting upwards of five hours.

The report says electricity outages are one of the constraints to the growth of MSMEs.

The victims

Mr Richard Sserwadda, a miller in Lubaga, Kampala, says his mill processes 100 kilogrammes of maize flour every six minutes.

In other words, for every hour electricity is off, his output is reduced by 1, 000kg of flour.

Most of the interruptions in power supply catch him, like many others, unawares.

Section 77 (7) of the Electricity Act, 1999, provides that the licensed power distributor will inform consumers – 24 hours early – of planned outages.

Umeme, the major power distribution company does this, through advertisements in newspapers, some radio stations and, of recent, the social networking sites Twitter and Facebook.

But then, there are also unplanned outages, which Umeme takes, albeit understandably long, to inform the consumers about.

ERA has now drawn up quality of standards for the electricity supply industry, which require utilities to inform consumers about unplanned outages within two hours of their occurrence.

ERA says it will monitor compliance starting July.

Still on the subject of power outages, Section 77 (8) of the Electricity Act entitles electricity consumers to prompt, fair and adequate compensation for loss sustained.

The rider, in sub-section 9, is that the compensation can only be paid where a consumer lodges a written claim with the distributor.

The claim must be filed within six months of one learning of the act that gave rise to the claim for which compensation is being sought.

A tribunal determines the matter

We could not pose this and other questions to Umeme since the company is “reluctant to reignite media attention”.

Umeme’s stakeholder relations manager, Mr Stephen Ilungole, though urges customers whose power supply is interrupted to immediately get in touch with Umeme.

“Our technical team is on standby and ready to respond to these emergencies,” Mr Ilungole said. “Our customers should bear with us as we attend to the faults.”

One of the long term solutions that some experts in the field have in the past suggested to reduce power outages to the minimum include investing in insulated cables.

Such cables would minimise contact between water, falling tree branches and the electricity cables.

And that would minimise the chances of short circuiting incidents.

Mr Ilungole says Umeme would be happy to undertake ‘any form of investment that would ensure the customers enjoy a world-class experience’.

“But you know for sure that ERA approves every bit of our investments,” he added.

ERA’s manager consumer and public affairs, Mr John Julius Wandera, says the regulator is mindful of the impact of amounts utilities invest in the network on electricity consumers.

“The regulator welcomes continued investment in strengthening the network,” Mr Wandera says.

“But the investments come at a cost; they end up in the tariff. In other words, the consumers would have to pay for it.”

Suggestions on curbing outages

In 2014, ERA’s then director of technical regulation, Ms Ziria Tibalwa Waako, articulated the various ways utilities could reduce the prevalence of power outages.

Through the 2014 in-house newsletter, Ms Ziria, who is now ERA’s chief executive officer, suggested that the utilities should continuously upgrade their electricity systems to keep pace with better technologies.

She said they should install animal guards around ground – mounted electrical equipment to protect against short circuits caused by animals.

Ms Tibalwa further suggested they install lightning arresters around the installations to provide a harmless path [for the lightning charge], which cause electrical surges, from the installation to the ground.

Whatever amount Umeme and Bujagali get regulatory approval for to invest in power distribution and generation, they are entitled to 20 and 19 per cent return on investment, respectively.

Back to Ssalongo, whenever he uses a generator, he increases the charge per customer from Shs3, 000 for a haircut to Shs 4,000 to cover the extra expenses on energy.

“I could have charged Shs2, 000 more but that would scare away many prospective customers,” Ssalongo says.

On his part, Mr Sserwadda says some medium-sized factories could consider buying 500-kilovolt generators to use whenever there is an interruption in electricity supply.

“But they would need fuel.”

Power Cuts Blamed for Baby’s Death

By John Okot

Eighteen-year-old Sandra Adyeero rummages through her belongings as she weeps silently outside the maternity ward unit at Gulu regional referral hospital.

Adyeero delivered a premature baby last Monday after being pregnant for six months. Her baby was put in an incubator until Tuesday when power went off.

The incubator also went off and off went Adyeero’s baby girl.

“It has happened; she has died and I can’t do anything about it,” Adyeero says, wiping her tears as she mutters other things to herself.

Adyeero and her nameless baby are some of the latest victims of irregular power supply in Gulu district. For nearly a month now, Gulu has been in a virtual blackout, with frequent power cuts. The neonatal unit at Gulu hospital has been relying on the solar inverters for lighting, but they are not strong enough to run the incubators.

The big generator that used to power the facility has been faulty since October. Today, only two small generators are working, supplying the orthopedic and eye units.

Adyeero’s baby could not survive. Christine Akumu, in charge of the neonatal unit, blamed the baby’s death on the power cuts.

“At first the baby’s temperature was fine. When power went off, we hoped that the baby would be resilient enough but sadly she couldn’t make it,” Akumu told The Observer last Wednesday.

According to a health worker at the hospital who preferred anonymity, many patients with serious complications that require surgery and mothers who might undergo caesarean section are referred to St Mary’s hospital Lacor.

Evelyn Acen, an enrolled midwife, says due to power shortages, some babies suffering from jaundice are being treated by traditional methods, such as exposing them to sun rays.

Gulu hospital administrator, Stephen Agambwa, noted that the power outage has affected the quality of service delivery at the facility, adding that buying fuel to run the generators was also costly. Every after two days, the hospital needs at least Shs 70,000 for fuel to run the two generators.

Last Tuesday afternoon, a section of leaders in Gulu tried to demonstrate over the persistent power outages, only to be calmed by the police led by district police commander Martin Okoyo.

At Gulu main market, hundreds of enraged vendors gathered to march on the offices of power distributor, Umeme, but were stopped by their chairman, Patrick Omaya, and local leaders. But while protecting Umeme staff, leaders are demanding answers.

“When the month ends, you [Umeme] are very quick to demand money and yet the kinds of services you are offering are so frustrating especially for people who rely on power to work,” said Gulu LC-V chairman Martin Ojara Mapenduzi

Tom Awuzu, the Umeme district manager, blamed the current situation on the rampant bush burning which he says weakens the base of the electric poles thus being vulnerable to falling down due to storm and strong winds.

“I appeal to everyone to understand that the problem is being instigated by some people who engage in burning bushes because they are after hunting edible rats and this ends with vandalizing of our material”, he said.

According to Umeme commercial officer Wilson Egesa, Gulu has one line and it is supplied by Lira district which has a substation. It can take Umeme up to three weeks to repair vandalized poles.

Uganda: Uganda Revenue Authority Strikes Off KCB Bank From Tax Portal

By Brian Ngugi and David Herbling

The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has struck off KCB Uganda from its portal that allows banks to facilitate the payment of State revenue by the public.

“The general tax paying public is informed that Uganda Revenue Authority has deactivated KCB from the URA portal with effect from the December 21, 2016 pending resolution of key issues,” URA said in a notice Thursday posted on its website.

“We therefore urge our valued clients to use the other banks available on the URA portal for payment of taxes. We apologise to all our clients for any inconveniences caused,” it added.

URA did not, however, say what the “unresolved issues” with KCB Uganda were.

Talks

In a quick rejoinder in Nairobi, KCB Group, the parent company, confirmed the development saying it was engaged in talks with the Ugandan taxman to resolve the matter.

“KCB Bank Uganda Limited was identified as a garnishee in a court case involving URA and third parties. The Bank acted as garnishee in compliance with an order issued by the court in Kampala,” KCB Group’s head of corporate and regulatory affairs Judith Sidi Odhiambo told Business Daily in a statement.

“KCB Bank Uganda Limited is actively engaging with URA to facilitate the reactivation of KCB Bank Uganda Limited on the URA portal.”

A garnishee is a third party who is served notice by a court to surrender money in settlement of a debt or claim.

Besides Kenya, KCB Group has operations in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and South Sudan.

URA partners with several banks to ease the tax payments system.

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Cranes Settle for Less Friendlies Ahead of Afcon

By Andrew Mwanguhya & Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo

Kampala — Uganda Cranes will have two buildup matches less than planned before the Africa Cup of Nations after Fufa pulled the plug on games against Gabon and Libya.

The two games announced last month were slated for December 29 and January 1 respectively. This leaves coach Micho Sredojevic with three tune-up games.

However, no reason was given at the weekly Fufa media briefing yesterday as Cranes will now settle for Tunisia, Slovakia and Ivory Coast next month.

The three games will be spread over January 4-11 with the first one in Tunis while the latter two will headline the camp in Dubai.

“We shall not play against Gabon and Libya but the three international friendlies against Tunisia, Slovakia and Cote D’Ivoire have been confirmed,” is all Micho (pictured below) told the media.

Earlier this month, Fufa finance director Decolas Kiiza gave a blow-by-blow account of the 7bn budget for the tournament.

That budget included $3,000 (about Shs10.5m) in match agent fees that Fufa had to pay to secure each of the aforementioned games.

With a fundraising drive spearheaded by Ecobank, the Fufa debt was trimmed to Shs4.3bn which Kiiza told the media yesterday that it is still being sought from government.

While government is yet to meet the demands, Micho continue to prepare the team of which nine players will be released from the camp on Saturday.

The remaining will take Christmas off then resume training on December 26 before the team leaves for Tunisia four days later.

Once in Gabon, Uganda and Guinea Bissau will feel like a snort of fresh air. The West African nation are the only debutants at the tournament that kicks off January 14 and ends February 5 in the four Gabonese cities of Libreville, Port Gentil, Franceville and Oyem. Uganda is only here for the first time in 39 years. It might as well feel like a debut for all born after 1978.

It’s been a remarkable journey for the Cranes, who have also made the group stages of the 2018 World Cup qualification, and got nominated for National Team of the Year in the 2016 Glo Caf Awards.

The friendlies for Uganda, whose ranking improved by one place to 72nd will be test the national team’s readiness.

Moment of truth

“As players we have been waiting for this moment,” dreadlocked defender-cum-midfield player Hassan Wasswa told Daily Monitor after training at Kabira Country club ground this week.

“And it’s time to prove to everyone that we are not here by accident. The friendlies are a perfect opportunity to know where we stand physically and mentally and these are big teams.”

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