Minister of Energy and Mineral Development Irene Muloni has said there is need for increased investment in power distribution and transmission infrastructure if Uganda’s power problems are to be addressed.
The minister said although Uganda produces enough power — about 950MW, with the national demand currently at 650MW, — the problem of power reliability, accessibility and affordability are still a big challenge.
Minister Muloni noted that these challenges can be reduced if more money is invested in transmission and distribution power lines, transformers and other needed infrastructure.
“It is alarming for people to hear that we have more power than what we can consume and yet power shortage in some parts of the country is a big problem. We need to invest more in lines that will transmit this power to domestic and industrial users,” she said
The minister added “This, in the end will create market for the excess power hence reducing the cost of power.”
Minister Muloni was speaking at a consultative meeting with members of Natural Resources committee of Parliament held on Thursday 6th to 7th December at Imperial resort Beach hotel Entebbe.
The meeting was organised by the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) under the theme “Accelerating Access to affordable and Reliable Electricity Supply”.
It was mainly aimed at giving a platform to the energy sector players like Members of Parliament, the Electricity distributor Umeme Limited, users under Uganda Manufacturers Association and Regulators like ERA and UETCL to review the status and performance of the sector so as to provide affordable, reliable and accessible modern energy to Uganda.
According to the minister, 78% of Ugandans currently are still in darkness, not connected to any source of power which is a setback for Uganda’s targets of having 100% connectivity for all Ugandans by 2040.
“Power connectivity and reliability is important for economic development, manufacturing, women empowerment, education, medical access and others that are essential for the wellbeing of our people. But currently power is a bit expensive
“We are trying to implement the President’s directive of 5 US cent for the industrial sector but this is still hard especially during on the peak hours. However we are working towards that so that power is the driver for economic production “she said
The executive director ERA, Eng. Ziria Tibalwa Waako said that despite the current challenges, the sector is growing and performing much better than in the last years and would even do much better once the ongoing power plants are commissioned.
“We expected power generated to go up to 2500mw in the next two years Karuma and Isimba dams are commissioned. This will lead to reduced power tariffs and more power reliability” she said.
She however appealed to Ugandans to look at energy as a commercial commodity that must be invested in, instead of referring to it as an essential good that should be cheap.
“Power in Uganda is generated by private companies that have invested in their money and expect returns by selling electricity. Although the regulator must ensure that the tariffs are affordable, it shouldn’t be expected to be cheap” she said