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Govt seeks $400M loan from World Bank for Free Electricity connections

KAMPALA – Government of Uganda has approached the World Bank seeking for a $400m (Shs1.4 trillion) credit facility to resume free electricity connections for the next five years.

State Minister for Energy Simon D’ujanga yesterday said government is fast-tracking efforts to have free electricity connections resumed beyond the recently announced programme.

“Government is also in advanced stages to secure $400m (Shs1.4 trillion) from the World Bank to support the electricity connections policy for a period of five years. There is a lot of backlog of connections that we must do and we are working hard to make sure that the money comes soon,” Mr D’ujanga said, noting that the loan will clear the connection backlog of about 200,000 households and some additional new connections.

Government recently announced the resumption of the Electricity Connections Policy with financial assistance from the African Development Bank.

The resumption, government said, would in the interim seek to connect more than 110,000 households that do not require a pole.

The Electricity Connections Policy had in December been halted after government ran out of donor funds as Covid-19 shifted donor priorities and focus to the medical emergency.

At the time, pending applications were more than 250,000 with the bulk of them recorded by Umeme, which still has an unpaid debt of $23m worth of completed connections.

Ms Florence Nsubuga, Umeme chief operating officer, said yesterday with the resumption of free connections, Umeme, which is expected to connect about 87,500 customers would start with households that had earlier applied for power. She was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the Umeme online electricity connection application portal, which seeks to boost efficiency in the application process.

“If someone stays on Mbarara road, they have to drive more than 50km to submit an application, sign documentation and apply for power. Customers today want quick turnaround. Customer can now apply for power in the comfort of their living room as long as they have Internet,” she said.

Mr Julius Wandera, Electricity Regulatory Authority director corporate and consumer affairs, said the innovation by Umeme was a step in the right direction, noting innovation is at the core of the electricity sub-sector.

Mr Wandera said the regulator was also in the process of launching an application that would certify wiremen.
This, he said, will integrate the systems for effective service delivery.

Slow response

Mr Simon D’ujanga, however, challenged Umeme, citing slow response to complaints, which continues to challenge electricity reliability across the country.

However, Mr Selestino Babungi, the Umeme managing director, said that they are now focusing on addressing reliability of supply through leveraging on innovation and technology through automation and zoning of their customers for quicker response time.

Umeme, he noted, has been working on innovative systems that seek real-time response to customer complaints.

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