Uganda Government targeting universal rural electrification by 2035
Tuesday, 3rd May, 2011
THE Government has failed to achieve the 10% rural electrification target set almost 10 years back, Eng. Simon D’Ujanga, the energy state minister, has said.
He said rural electrification in Uganda was at about 6%.
He was speaking at an energy stakeholders’ workshop in Kampala on Monday.
The minister noted that the failure to hit the target was partly due to the low interest from the private sector towards the programme.
D’Ujanga said the private sector investment has been virtually absent.
He said while developing the rural electrification strategy and plan in 2001, it had been assumed that market-led reforms would attract the private sector to invest in rural electrification.
“We failed to hit the 10% power access target by 2010, but we have learnt our lesson.
“Therefore, we need to redesign the programme to make it pro-poor and avoid any further experimentation,” noted D’Ujanga.
The workshop was aimed at reviewing Uganda’s accelerated rural electrification project.
The minister also said there was a need to review the high connection fees charged by utility companies.
“Cost of house wiring has been a big barrier to power access since connection facilities cannot be provided unless the house has been wired,” said D’Ujanga.
The energy ministry permanent secretary, Kabagambe Kaliisa, said the Government had decided to use consolidated funds to finance energy projects and procure private sector operators on long-term concessions.
“The National Development Plan gives a tough challenge to rural electrification programme to achieve universal access by 2035. So, we need to work on the power access programme in the next 10 years with this target in mind.”
He, however, noted that in the past 10 years, a few private sectors had engaged in power generation.
Kaliisa said so far 53MW had been generated and commissioned, while an additional 23MW would be commissioned this year.
Meanwhile, Charles Chapman, the UMEME managing director, said his organisation would start using the pre-paid metering system to minimise the rampant power theft.
“We are experiencing a lot of power theft in the countryside, but we have imported 10,000 pre-paid metres for the pilot project,” said Chapman.
At the same workshop, NRECA International, the consultants contracted to develop a realistic rural electrification policy framework for 2011 to 2020, also presented their findings.
By Ronald Kalyango: The New Vision Newspaper