By Guest Writer

For over 16years, Uganda has paid 1.4 trillion shillings to 13 power generation firms for electricity that was not evacuated (deemed power).This is a very huge loss the country is facing by spending such amounts of money on the product that is  not  utilized .Uganda produces power that is not transmitted to consumers for consumption and this has resulted into increasing costs for example  many power dams in the country lack  transmission lines to evacuate electricity including the Achwa dam hydro power which was lacking the transmission lines and the government through UEDCL, constructed a Shs30b temporary distribution line to evacuate 12MW of the total 41MW generated from the dam.

However, the line only evacuated power for four months before halting the process due to technical glitches occasioned by differences in construction design of the dam and line. This has left people in Gulu suffer power outages despite neighboring a hydro power dam whose developers are earning billions for redundancy and yet government has to face charges.

Recently the Deputy speaker of parliament Hon Tayebwa tasked the minister of energy and mineral development to explain why the government has not completed electricity projects across the country as this has left many communities in darkness.

It should be noted that in most parts of the country the stalled power projects are becoming song of the day to the extent that some infrastructure is getting destroyed due to delays in completion of the projects. The government has been losing a lot of money to pay for deemed power that has not been used due to stalled projects.

In April 2022, the committee on natural resources presented a budget estimate for energy and development sector in next financial years 2022/2023 and in this report the committee recommended an additional allocation of 113 billion Shillings to cater for deemed energy costs of the previous financial years and those for next financial year 2022/2023.

This is attributed to the weak grid infrastructure and insufficient demand that has consistently resulted into government incurring costs for deemed power .Most of the projects are not yet completed and this is still increasing on billions of money the country is going to lose to pay for un used power for example if the country fails to complete 132kV Gulu-Agago transmission lines it will automatically results into increased costs for unevaluated electricity from Achwa hydro power plant.

To me the ministry of energy is playing “monkey games” as this is just wasting tax payers money due to poor planning by the authority ,most parts of the country are in darkness just because there are no Transmission chambers ,where  shall we end with this? For example the previous Audit report by General Muwanga questioned the expenditures on deemed energy in 2020/2021 financial year report which highlighted payment made by the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) for deemed energy.

It should be noted that the government plans to restore electricity connection policy in next financial year and this huge amounts of money on deemed power should be channelled to implement this policy. The emphasis on power generation, transmission and distribution has been neglected to the extent that there are many power dams without transmission line to evacuate electricity.

For example a  2020 audit report of Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited(UETCL), a government owned company in charge of buying electricity from power generators  revealed that 9 per cent of the electricity purchased was for deemed energy and  government paid Shs104.4b to power generators for electricity that was not evacuated during the financial year ended June 2020.

For all these issues to be solved the ministry of energy together with sister agencies should put emphasis on the following

Restructure and, if possible, delay construction of new (large) power stations to balance grid supply and demand at least cost

Put more emphasis on transmission and distribution investments to enable evacuation of power and serve latent demand

Encourage distributed generation, minigrids, and energy efficiency in the system

As the committee on Natural resources recommended ,the funding for Gulu-Agago transmission line should be prioritized so as to complete the line by March 2023 as stated,  government should work out a robust plan to ensure that all power generated is evacuated and utilized so as to eliminate expenditure on deemed energy.

The author is Gerald Barekye {geraldbarekye@gmail.com} Research Associate at Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO)

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