Govt: Unused electricity is a damning indictment
What you need to know:
- Energy minister Ruth Nankabirwa made the confession this week while speaking on the sidelines of a commissioning ceremony of the Shs368 billion Luzira-Namanve transmission project.
The government has said the country’s stock of unconsumed electricity doesn’t reflect well on it.
Energy minister Ruth Nankabirwa made the confession this week while speaking on the sidelines of a commissioning ceremony of the Shs368 billion Luzira-Namanve transmission project.
“It is a shame to talk about the installed capacity as being 1378MW and consumption at the peak is only 900MW. It is a shame,” she said, adding, “We borrow money to put up these infrastructures expecting to get money from electricity sold to pay back.”
Citing the new Namanve South Industrial Park substation where only 32 percent of the available power is consumed by industries, Mr Geoffrey Okoboi—an official at the Electricity Regulatory Authority—revealed that the unconsumed electricity has rendered infrastructures redundant and expensive to maintain.
Maximise using the power
“We want to challenge the industrialists to take it up and maximise using the power because having a redundant asset or an asset … is not good enough,” Mr Okoboi said of the Namanve substation that at full tilt operates at 189MW yet the industrial park consumes approximately 51MW.
Mr Michael Taremwa, the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) acting chief executive, said the company invested trillions of shillings into electricity transmission infrastructure to create a stable environment for industrialisation across the country.
“We have enough room for industrialists to increase production for the benefit of the country,” Mr Taremwa said, adding, “We have the current transmission length increased to 3992km and with a total of 31 substations in the country, and all the components of this project have been fully accomplished.”
Ms Nankabirwa also ripped into Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) for “doing us a disservice” by “demand[ing] for power yet you don’t consume this power.”
Reduce power tariffs
This didn’t stop Mr Joshua Sendaula, a member of UMA, from asking the Energy ministry to follow up on President Museveni’s earlier pledge to reduce power tariffs for manufacturers to boost their productivity. Mr Sendaula said they were failing to adequately compete in the East African and global markets due to an unfavourable environment resulting from high power tariffs.
Ms Ceilia Menya, the director of energy resources at the Energy ministry, said the government cannot commit more resources for new projects unless the available resources are absorbed.
“We urge all the industries served by these projects to take advantage of this infrastructure and make the necessary investment to increase their production which will subsequently increase electricity demand growth and contribute to the overall reduction in electricity tariffs.”