Power bodies deny claims of raising connection fees
Posted Friday, February 1 2013 at 02:00
Doubled costs. If raised, households that are not yet connected will have to pay about Shs400,000 and Shs860,000.
Both Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) and power distributor Umeme, have refuted claims that there are plans to increase consumers’ connection fees.
Current connection charges for households are Shs98,000 plus security deposit of Shs100,000 for single phase with no pole and Shs326,000 plus security deposit of Shs100,000 for single phase and one pole.
Doubling this would mean that households that are not yet connected will have to pay about Shs400,000 and Shs860,000 for one of the two categories mentioned earlier.
In an e-mail to Daily Monitor, Mr Henry Rugamba, the Umeme chief communications officer referred to the doubling of connection fees as ‘accusations’, insisting that there were no talks between Umeme and ERA to increase the connection rates that have been fixed since 2005.
“ERA is aware of the full connection costs relating to domestic consumers and it is the Authority’s responsibility to make revisions or changes to the existing connection charges if it has not made any changes to the connection charges for domestic consumers since 2005,” Mr Rugamba said.
He further explained: “The current connection charges for households are heavily subsidised through the tariff and do not reflect the full connection costs. The connection charges were inherited from Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited (UEDCL) on March 1, 2005.”
Mr John Julius Wandera, the ERA spokesperson said only ERA can change connection fees.
“We are not planning to do that. Umeme can recommend a change which we can approve or deny. However, they have not made any recommendation.”
The position of the two electricity bodies comes after Daily Monitor received information from an industry player that Umeme was planning to recommend doubling of the connection fees for both households and industries, sighting high costs of operations as the reason for the increase.
Uganda has a very low electricity penetration with round 500,000 households (about 10 per cent) connected to the grid.
Over all, about 3,000,000 people access this electricity considering that each household is assumed to have an average of six individuals.
Recently, Mr Dickens Kamugisha, the chief executive officer at African Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), told this newspaper that the only way electricity penetration will grow is by reducing both the connection fees and per unit tariffs.
“If the government is concerned about the end user, it should ensure that the power tariffs and connection fees are not increased. Unless this is done, much of the power generated from Uganda will continue to be exported and consumed in Kenya and Rwanda,” he said.