UMEME has attributed the recent rampant loadshedding to the increasing effects of global warming which cause disruptions in electricity distribution.
The distribution company has come under constant public criticism for not doing much to address the numerous power outages especially within some parts of Kampala city.
Similar complaints dominated the discussion during UMEME’s annual general meeting with its over 400 shareholders held on Thursday at Sheraton Kampala Hotel.
In response, page Board Chairman Patrick Bitature clarified that the environment has changed considerably, there largely due to global warming. “The winds and rains we are experiencing in Kampala are much stronger. Inspite of the branch and shrub clearing that we had done, many trees came down on our lines increasing outages in the last month or so.”
“It’s good to notice that our customers are very upset and demanding whenever they face unplanned cut outs. Unfortunately, we have a limited number of peopke but we are doing everything in our capacity, given the resources.”
Comparing the current trends with power distribution in the past, Bitature asked participants to appreciate the achievements that Uganda has registered over the years. “People keep complaining about power outages, forgetting that we are not a first world country. In the past, load shedding used to go on for 3 consecutive days but this is no longer the case,” said Bitature.
In line with reducing the power tariffs, Bitature said that the Board members had earlier in the week supervised the ongoing works at Karuma power station and appreciated the progress. UMEME is cautious of rolling out infrastructure without negatively affecting the tariff, he noted.
According to UMEME, a total of 157,270 new customers were connected on the power grid in the year 2016, representing a 20% growth. But a majority of Uganda’s population (80%) still has no access to hydroelectricity.
Bitature says that alternative sources of energy, particularly solar are steadily gaining demand which will in the long term bridge the existing gap.
“There’s a big chuck of the population that can be covered by off grid solutions like solar. Solar is growing fast in Uganda, driven by low costs of both panels and installation. A high scale solar project (10 Megawatts capacity) was recently commissioned in Soroti and another in Tororo with a similar capacity will be launched this year,” he told journalists in a press briefing after the general meeting.
He added; “Direct solar solutions for small households are equally available with companies like Mkopa and Fenix entering the market. These are catering for market that UMEME can’t serve sustainably since we are profit oriented.