Reliable electricity supply is key for socio-economic transformation

Author, Stellah Nakibuuka. PHOTO/COURTESY 

What you need to know:

  • With improved reliability, there are higher chances of reducing the cost of doing business...

Reliable Electricity Supply refers to access to electricity that is stable, without fluctuations in voltage, always available, and capable of supporting appliance usage, subject to the voltage capacity of the grid line.  
The Government of Uganda National Development Plan III 2020/21 – 2024/25 under the Sustainable Energy Development Program emphasizes the need for increased access to a Reliable Electricity Supply to consolidate and increase the stock and quality of productive infrastructure. 
 Research done by the World Bank indicates that despite the Reliability of Electricity Supply being key to Socio-Economic Transformation, it is still a challenge in African countries, Uganda inclusive. Households, commercial consumers and industries endure several hours of outage and in instances where Electricity is available, sometimes brownouts do prevail. This implies that unreliable Electricity Supply negatively affects the incentivisation of potential entrepreneurs to establish businesses hence low economic development.
 The impact of unreliable Electricity Supply is multidimensional as it affects all electricity consumers, constraining their utilization of the electricity service for both income productive and non-income productive uses.
 Based on the limitations of unreliable Electricity Supply, the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) has identified and prioritized the Reliability of Electricity Supply as one of the key strategic focus areas through 2025. Significant efforts are going to be directed towards ensuring improved Reliability of Electricity Supply. The Sector Regulator recognizes that for Electricity to contribute to Socio-Economic Transformation, reliability needs to receive more attention.
This, however, requires costly investment and skilled control of the Electricity Network. In light of this, the Authority has come up with several interventions to address Reliability across the country. The interventions include but are not limited to the introduction of a Reliability Project named the “Reliability of Supply Improvement Project” (RSIP) to be implemented by a team of highly dedicated staff starting 2021/22 until 2025.
The project is to drive electricity companies/operators to improve the reliability of supply in their areas of operation in line with the established reliability targets. The team is in charge of assessing the condition of both the Transmission and Distribution networks to ensure that they support reliability. It is also charged with coming up with initiatives and proposals on improvement of reliability across the country and strict evaluation and following up on reliability initiatives put in place by the electricity transmission and distribution companies.   
With improved reliability, there are higher chances of reducing the cost of doing business, especially for the Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs). It will also encourage the setting up of more industries, which will eventually create employment for skilled and non-skilled labour, increase industrial productivity, and in the long run, boost the pace of Socio-economic transformation.
 The quality of life of electricity consumers is envisaged to improve.  Case in point, there will be a positive impact created on the delivery of health care, education, entertainment, and security among other benefits.  A reliable electricity supply is a major trigger for Socio-Economic Transformation and development. This, however, requires a concerted effort by the different stakeholders to include increased capital investment to provide adequate network infrastructure, improved responsiveness of electricity companies and timely reporting by electricity consumers. 

Ms  Stellah Nakibuuka  is the communication officer,
Electricity Regulatory Authority