An increase in demand for electricity by other countries has significantly contributed to the resumption of Uganda’s total power demand.
Data from Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL), indicates that the increase in power demand from exports was slightly higher than in the domestic market.
System power demand, which is a total of domestic demand and exports registered in May was 639.87 megawatts (MW) down from 588.52MW in April.
However, domestic demand in May grew by 564.78MW compared to 543.6MW in April.
Essentially, this indicates that domestic demand increased by 21.18MW compared to 30MW in exports.
Uganda exports power to Kenya and Tanzania.
It is not unusual for export demand to increase as it varies depending on prevailing circumstances in the neighboring countries.
However, the increased demand comes as Kenya Power and Lighting Company, the power transmission and distributor in the country, issued a cautionary note to its shareholders warning of lower earnings because of slow growth in electricity sales due to Covid-19.
“It is because they [Kenya] have got challenges in the western part of their grid. They have a transmission constraint in that area so they prefer getting power from us,” Mr Valentine Katabira, the UETCL acting chief executive officer, explained the cause of the increase in demand.
On the other hand, data also indicates that domestic demand is growing after falling in April because of lockdown measures set to curb spread of Covid-19.
Despite the marginal increase, demand is still lower than the pre-Covid-19 period when it was at 728MW.
Increased demand for electricity has a positive effect on the tariff and reduces the country’s loss in capacity payments to power generators.
Currently the president has allowed movement of public and private vehicles but maintained curfew at 7pm.
This continues to limit working time, especially for manufacturers who consume more than 60 per cent of the country’s power.
Impact of Covid-19
The deferral of non-emergency activities in the power sector, according to Electricity Regulatory Authority, , could have affected power reliability.
“Reliability issues also came in, average duration and frequency of outages as we were only handling emergency maintenance and all the planned activities were suspended,” Ms Ziria Tibalwa Waako, the ERA chief executive officer, noted.
New customer connections were also suspended to minimise contact among people.
According to ERA, this led to increase in illegal connections, which contributed to electricity fatalities and energy losses.