Umeme refutes claims of Yaka tokens running out faster

Yaka meters on Biashara Building in Jinja City.  All prepaid electricity users will have to migrate to the new technology by November 2024. PHOTO / TAUSI NAKATO 

What you need to know:

The process which started in Kampala will be rolled out to other parts of the country by the end of this month. 

Since Umeme started upgrading its prepaid electricity meters’ (Yaka) system, some of the power distributor’s pre-paid customers have voiced concerns about how quickly their electricity units are being depleted.

Currently, Umeme is conducting a nationwide upgrade of the prepaid electricity meters onto the new Token Identification System. All prepaid meters are based on Standard Transfer Specification (STS) technology which will stop accepting new credit tokens because of the expiry of these vending codes by November 2024. 

Commenting on the upgrade’s effect on Yaka meters, Mr Peter Kaujju, Umeme’s spokesperson, disputed claims of the electricity units running out faster due to the system upgrade.

 “There is no relationship between the speed of the meters and the upgrade. If we do not upgrade, you will not be able to vend. Once we hit November 2024, all meters that are not upgraded will not be able to vend and have to be removed,” Mr Kaujju said yesterday. 

The process which started in Kampala will be rolled out to other parts of the country by the end of this month to avoid the risk of being locked out of the system.
According to the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), Umeme’s pre-paid metering system upgrade is not the cause of the issue.

The regulator clarifies that Umeme’s customers who are having problems could be using subpar meters.

Eng Ziria Tibalwa Waako, the chief executive officer of ERA, notes that probably some Umeme customers are unfamiliar with the new system because they were accustomed to postpaid plans, in which they would use electricity in bulk for several months and make one payment at a time. 

“If anyone is dissatisfied with how their Yaka metering system is working, they should present it to the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) to recheck its operating efficiency. If it is found to be faulty, the utility supplier [Umeme] will pay for a new one and replace it without the consumer making any payment. But if it is found to be working normally, there is a penalty for that,” Eng Waako told Daily Monitor on Tuesday.

ERA says for the aforementioned examination to occur, though, the complainant needs pay UNBS Shs8,000 to evaluate the functionality of their Yaka meters.

Since Umeme’s ideal business model entails leasing assets from Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited (UEDCL), making investments to supply power to homes and businesses, and then profiting from its operations through power tariffs, it has been placed in the forefront.

User tariffs are determined by ERA as Umeme’s capital recovery rate, which is based on how quickly its intangible assets depreciate.

Previously, Umeme’s postpaid plan would let users use electricity for about a month before billing them. 

However, during the time, Umeme encountered issues because users were unable to keep a close eye on their energy costs and usage, which forced them to use more energy than they could afford.