Umeme resorts to underground cables to improve power supply

Seeking to change. Much of Umeme’s supply network is composed of overhead connections. But the company is seeking to change this, especially in cities and industrial parks. FILE PHOTO

Power distributor, Umeme has invested $4m (Shs14.7b) in laying underground cables in Kampala Business and Industrial Park (Namanve Industrial Park).
According to Mr Sylver Hategekimana, Umeme’s network assets manager, burying the cables and installing associated hardware will reinforce the network already in place and ensure reliable supply to the factories in the area.

The underground network will cover at least 34 kilometres in the park, which is 15 kilometres (km) East of Kampala city.
“We plan to complete the work by the end of the year,” he said, adding first beneficiaries in the industrial park will include Steel & Tube Industries and Century Bottling Company (Coca Cola), among others.
Mr Stephen Ilungole, the Umeme manager public and media relations, said it has increasingly become unsafe to run overhead electricity lines in industrial parks due to the several storied structures in such areas.
“Besides that, overhead networks are not as reliable as underground networks and yet the industrial park needs reliable supply,” he said.
Umeme’s 2018 annual report indicates that 79 per cent of the energy sold is used for commercial and or industrial purposes while the balance is for domestic use.
The development is in tandem with Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited’s (UETCL) plan to electrify the industrial parks.
UETCL recently kicked off electrification of industrial parks with a $100m (Shs369b) investment funded by a loan between government and China Exim Bank, at 15 per cent and 85 per cent respectively.
Currently, the transmission company is in the final stages of setting up a 210 megawatt (MW) substation in the same estate.
The scheduled date for the commissioning of UETCL’s Namanve substation is expected at the end of September 2019.