Ugandans may have to wait a little longer before beginning to enjoy cheap power even when the country is currently generating excess power, the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) has said.
According to Eng. Ziria Tibalwa Waako, the executive director of ERA, most of the power-generating plants in the country are privately managed and as such, the owners are still recovering their injected capital and return on investment, a process that she said may take between six to 10 years.
Ziria said: “As the overseers of this sector (electricity), we are working closely with the government and are committed to ensure that once the recovery process is complete, there is a gradual reduction in the electricity prices.”
The ERA boss explained that much as the public has been pointing fingers at Umeme in the recent past over high power tariffs, she said Umeme usually goes in for commercial loans to put up different power substations and these loans have to be paid back with interest besides getting a return on investment.
Ziria said there can be an alternative if government decided to buy off the power generation facilities, a process which is quite expensive.
Consumers have over the time raised a number of complaints regarding the manner in which Yaka (the prepaid meters) works especially when it comes to variation in different units purchased.
The ERA boss said the challenge is in the changed consumer behaviour after the rolling out of prepaid services where one has to pay before consuming.
“Unlike the postpaid arrangement where the consumer would pay for example Shs 300,000 and enjoy a long period of time without paying for any services, the new prepaid arrangement has made many consumers reluctant whereby they purchase power in small token of for example Sh20,000. This makes many to think that Yaka is expensive,” she said.
She urged those who have challenges with their prepaid meters to contact the regulatory authority or the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) who will check the meter to establish the problem and rectify if there is any.
Ziria said that at the end of this year, both Isimba and Karuma hydro power dam projects will be fully commissioned adding an extra 800 MW to the national grid.
She urged members of the public to position themselves so as to benefit from different government projects that are aimed at increasing access to power and creating more demand.
Engineer Ziria Tibalwa Waako paid a courtesy visit to Next Media Services on Wednesday, February 13, 2019.