Electricity distribution company, Umeme has announced the number of households connected to the grid within their footprint has increased by 14.8% to 1.3 million customers.
“Over the 7 year period to 2018, Umeme exceeded the regulatory customer base target by 0.3 million customers (30%),”said Umeme’s Managing Director Celestine Babungi during the release of the company’s financial results for the year ending 2018.
Umeme officials partly attributed the increase to a new policy launched by government through the Rural Electrification Agency in which it rolled out a free electricity connection policy to customers in distances which require one or none poles.
“We have seen an increase in applications from 600 to 1000 per day since the introduction of the program,” said Umeme Chief Operations Officer, Florence Nsubuga.
Officials says despite an overall increase in the number of individual households for the distribution company, the biggest growth has been realized among industries.
Babungi attributed it to stability in the neighboring countries including Kenya, DR Congo and South Sudan where Uganda sells some of her goods.
“The number of goods we sell to those countries has increased and because industries are as good as markets, the production has gone up and a high production means more demand for electricity.”
The Umeme boss also commended government for its policy that encourages industrialization that he said has seen the demand for electricity go up due to a sprout out of a number of industries.
Power losses reduce
The power distribution company said they had reduced the power losses from 17.2% in 2017 to only 16.6%, a thing they said is good for both the industry adding that this had fallen from 27.3% in 2011.
“We invested over $60 million last year and one of the main drivers of the investment was reduction in power losses. We have invested in transformers which reduce technical losses and also in technology,” said Umeme Chief Operations Officer, Nsubuga.
She explained that because their biggest power consumers contribute to over 70% of the Umeme sales, they cannot allow power to be stolen adding that they have invested heavily in their biggest power consumers to close any gaps of power losses.
“We have installed the automated metre reading where we are able to detect in real time if an industry is stealing power. It is important we invest in large power users through technology.”
The power distribution company in 2009 introduced a prepaid power system known as Yaka and a number of customers have been connected.
The Umeme Chief Operations Officer said Yaka metres have greatly helped in reduction of power losses
“Much of our domestic customers account to close to 30%, about 80% of them are on prepaid metre system and those stealing power have gone down greatly.”
The company also announced that through the introduction of the prepaid metering system and open platforms for electricity bill payments, they have achieved an average revenue collection rate of 99% over the 7 year cycle.
“During the year 2018, we paid shs1, 067 billion to Uganda Electricity Transmission Company (UETCL) for electricity purchases,”Babungi said.