Since 2015, Sarah Ndagire, a housewife in Lwadda village Matugga Wakiso District central Uganda, has longed to connect her two tenements to the electricity grid.
However, the connection fees, which range from Shs98, 000 to Shs326, 000, stood between her and her dream.
According to the National Service Delivery Survey 2015 Report, six in every ten Ugandan shy away from connecting to the grid because of high connection fees.
And seven in every 10 say the government’s performance in ensuring access to affordable electricity is bad.
Now, Ugandans who live within a five–kilometre radius of the Kawanda–Masaka power transmission line but are not connected to the grid will be for free.
State minister for mineral development Peter Lokeris launched the programme on Thursday, September 8 in Matugga, one of the suburbs north of Kampala.
It will benefit households in Wakiso, Masaka, Bukomansimbi and Kalungu districts through which the 142–kilometre long high voltage transmission line passes.
Mr Lokeris said the connections are in line with the policy of ratcheting up the access to electricity, which, according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, is 22 per cent.
The acting commissioner electrical power department of the ministry of Energy, Abdon Atwine, said those who would want to be connected must fulfil certain conditions.
“First, of all wire your house. Second, go to the LC 1 to pick application forms. Attach two passport–size pictures. Then apply,” Atwine said Thursday.
“Once you have done this, return the form to the LC 1, who will call the ministry of Energy to pick the forms.”
The ministry then assesses the applications. If the applicants qualify, the ministry passes on their forms to Umeme to connect the applicants’ homes to electricity.
Umeme’s deputy managing director Mr Sam Zimbe said once they get the forms, the utility would connect the applicants within seven days.
“The total number we want to connect through this programme is 15, 000 households,” Mr Zimbe said. “We hope we will connect them by the end of the year.”
In some areas where there is no low voltage network, Mr Zimbe said, Umeme would put up a network.
Mr Lokeris urged households that want to be connected to use technicians certified by the Electricity Regulatory Authority to wire their houses.