Sensitization on renewable energy alternatives is key

According to international energy agency, renewable energy is expected to contribute 22 percent of Africa’s total energy consumption by 2030.

Last week on Tuesday, the media reported that a 24 year old Evelyn Namulondo, a resident of Iringa village in Nkondo sub-county was electrocuted in Buyende district due to illegal connection while she was drying her clothes on wire lines reportedly carrying electricity to her house. 

Joseph Muziru, who operates a kiosk in the area, noted that many of the residents have opted for underground power connections since it is cheap and pointed out that the culprits often used to use exposed wires to connect power unofficially within the community which pose a safety risk.

In addition to the above, Last year, on 20/01/2022) ,the media also reported the same incident of death by electrocution  in Kasenge Trading Centre where the victims, identified as Asimwe Babirye, 35, Annet, 24, and Jeremiah Sekalenzi, 5 were reported dead due to illegal connections. It is noted that the house where the deceased family was renting had no power and so they illegally tapped power from the neighbourhood since the connection is expensive. A 2018 incident report found that illegal connections to the grid were responsible for 48 per cent of the electrocution cases inland.

It is noted that electrocution is mostly common in rural areas where  most people are poor and vulnerable and cannot afford the high power tariffs plus the expensive connection hence putting people’s lives at stake. It noted that the current electricity tariff for domestic users currently costs Shs 750.9 per unit which is high and others argue that the time it takes to get connected to the grid is rather long, over a fortnight, Some say the connection fees Shs 720,883 for a no pole connection and Shs 2.3 million and Shs 2.7 million for a one pole are prohibitive.

According to Umeme, the country’s main electricity distribution company, Uganda loses $30m (approximately Shs 76bn) annually in electricity theft and other associated power losses; an estimated 50 people are electrocuted weekly in one region of Eastern Uganda as they attempt to illegally tap into power lines. The higher cost of electricity tariffs is a fundamental challenge which leads to illegal connection thus resulting in electrocution

According to Voluntary Action for Development (VAD) financed by Umeme, it is noted that the illegal connection  is secured easily compared to legal connection which is long and involves unclear cost which makes it expensive and leaves consumers with an option of seeking services of illegal connection to improve their standards of living. The government must address this challenge of illegal connections to reduce electrocution cases which claim people’s lives.

Therefore, to reduce on the electrocution and avoid the high power tariffs that are choking people, its high time for the government to sensitize people about  renewable energy alternatives like wind power, solar energy, biogas  which is cheap for an inclusive development and consider reducing electricity tariffs especially for low income households,  offer subsidies to make electricity more affordable, Lower the cost of obtaining legal electrical connections to make it more accessible for households or Offer subsidized  electrical connections to low income households to ensure that people have  affordable accessible, reliable and clean  energy in order to  discourage illegal connections which leads to electrocution.

Olive Atuhaire, Research Associate