Uganda: Parliament Calls for Countrywide Power Coverage

Kampala, Uganda — Legislators have called on government to ensure that electricity access across the country is improved for the benefit of Ugandans in different sectors of the economy.

This follows a report tabled by the House Committee on Environment and Natural relating to the erratic electricity supply in West Nile.

The report was presented following an earlier a motion by Ora County MP, Lawrence Biyika Songa that highlighted electricity supply challenges in the region.

In the report presented by Committee Chairperson, Emmanuel Otaala, it was recommended that the connection of West Nile region to the national grid be expedited.

This is in a bid to curb the effects of load shedding in the region which has retarded economic activities like welding, education and health systems.

The committee report observed that the unreliable electricity supply is attributed to the region not being connected to the national grid.

Otaala said government constructed and commissioned a medium voltage line connecting Olwiyo to a substation in Pakwach district, as a short term solution.

“The long term solution is the completion of the Kole-Gulu-Nebbi-Arua transmission project which will connect West Nile to high voltage electricity backbone transmission infrastructure by 2023,” Otaala said.

In the motion by Biyika Songa, government in 2003 granted the West Nile Rural Electrification Company (WENRECO) a concession to generate and distribute electricity in the region for 20 years.

The motion added that WENRECO failed to fulfil its obligations, and Electro-Maxx was contracted to supplement power generation in 2019, however, the region’s power supply remains unreliable.

The report recommended that the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development should not enter new agreements for generation, transmission and distribution until the Energy Policy and Energy Bill are tabled and approved by Parliament.

“In future, Parliament should ensure that approval for funding for development of generation projects should be done simultaneously with their transmission components,” Otaala noted.

The State Minister for Energy, Sidronius Opolot said that power in West Nile has relatively stabilised with the 33kv line.

“We have successfully connected the power generated from Nyagak 1 and it is being complimented by the 33kv line which we have successfully delivered to Arua,” said the Minister.

He added that the delivery of power in the national grid through a 132kv line is also making good progress, with works expected to be completed by March 2023.

“I thank Members of Parliament for passing the Electricity Access Scale-up loan that will help us to increase and distribute power within West Nile. We shall connect the various institutions of government through solar power,” Opolot said.

Godfrey Onzima, Aringa North County MP commended government for its plans to supplement electricity through solar power, but called for reliable and stable connections to help residents realize industrial and trade opportunities.

Siraji Ezama, Aringa County MP appealed to government to ensure districts without power are connected to the national grid, to enable the Parish Development Model succeed in rural areas.

Koboko North County MP, Noah Musa said there is need for an audit into the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), Electro-Maxx and WENRECO, to establish whether there was value for money on services provided.

Kyegegwa District Woman MP, Flavia Kabahenda proposed that the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development presents to Parliament, a profile of electricity coverage per district.

The Leader of the Opposition, Matthias Mpuuga asked government to come alive to the challenge dimmed energy in the country.

He said dimmed energy is a nugatory cost to the tax payer, adding that it could be made an available resource for connecting communities.

“If you consider how much the country loses in paying for dimmed energy, this cost could power 10 districts in this country. The Committee can consider doing away with this cost in the next budget,” said Mpuuga.

The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa directed the Minister for Energy and Mineral development to deliver an updated implementation status report for the Last Mile Connection project for all sub-counties in the country.

Tayebwa also tasked the minister to table a report containing beneficiary areas for the Electricity Access Scale-up Loan passed by the House two weeks ago.

“We expect a report on power outages by Thursday this week. I also expect you to table an action taken report on the issues raised by Members within one month,” said Tayebwa.

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