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Umeme to take Pre-paid Metres nationwide

By Ronald Musoke

Maria Kiwanuka, the finance minister has said she expects all electricity users in Uganda to have pre-paid metres within two years as a new measure to check power theft.

While speaking to members of the private sector at a post-budget analysis luncheon on June 14, Kiwanuka noted that part of the reason Uganda suffers from power black outs despite the new Bujagali dam adding about 250 MW recently is because of a weak grid system that could not handle additional power.

“People are saying Bujagali is up and running, why are we still experiencing power cuts? The system was not ready to take on extra power,” she said.

This new move comes at a time when Umeme has been rolling out new insulated power cables to improve safety and cut power theft to about 23% this year.

These two measures—the use of pre-paid metres and insulated wires— are expected to reduce distribution system losses.

According to Umeme, the power distributors in the country, current technical and commercial power losses are estimated at 27.3% down from 38% eight years ago.

Umeme is at the moment involved in securing a loan of about $350m for capital investments into network refurbishment and extension and pre-paid metres, according to Umeme’s 2012 annual report.

Kiwanuka noted that the government was working around the clock to ensure that the country does not endure black outs that almost brought the economy onto its knees years back.

She said before, bigger power projects of Karuma, Ayago and Isimba are built in the coming years, the government is looking at using the Global Energy Transfer Feed-in-Tariff (GET FiT) East Africa pilot project to construct up to 15 mini-hydropower projects that will deliver a total of 125 MW over the next three years.

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