May 20, 2024 8:50 am

By Jonan Kiiza

The Uganda Electricity Distribution Company (UEDCL) Ltd, a state-owned parastatal, has formally on May 1, 2024 taken over electricity distribution operations in territories previously run by the Kyegegwa Rural Electricity Cooperative Society (KRECS) Limited designated as the central service territory. This position increases UEDCL’s chances of operating the national distribution grid by 99%. UEDCL has acquired its fourth distribution concession in the last decade, with KRECS. UEDCL currently operates in 93 political districts across borders. This takeover underlines the government of Uganda’s direction to manage power utility operations in order to reduce on national expenditure and improvement in service delivery under the second generation reforms.

The Electricity Regulatory Authority gave KRECS a 10-year operating license for the districts of Kyegegwa, Mubende, Mityana, Luwero, Nakasongola, Kayunga, Kasana, and Buikwe. This takeover comes just one year after another big change, when the Uganda Electricity Distribution Company took over territories previously supplied by PACMECS in Northern and North Eastern Uganda.

The shift was commemorated by a formal asset handover at the Katente Hotel in Kyegegwa District. Commissioner Engineer Innocent Ola, representing the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, emphasized the government’s commitment to modernizing the energy delivery industry.

“This takeover is a testament to the second-generation reforms that are being undertaken by the government in the electricity supply industry,” he said.

Musa Rutangi Swaibu, the chairperson of KRECS’ Board of Directors, praised the government’s assistance throughout his term. The Board of KRECS began small and has developed into a massive commercial empire dealing in financial services, agriculture, and small-scale value addition, all of which have contributed to the company’s success.

Furthermore, “KRECS was informed about the policy changes two years ago, so as a board, we had ample time to prepare; it has not been a surprise,” he stated at the occasion.

Mr. Rutangi further emphasized that the government owes KRECS Shs700 million for supporting additional connections. His expectation is that this money will assist them settle any outstanding balances with the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited.

The cooperative also handed over all assets, including transformers, operational tools, vehicles, motorcycles, and more, to UEDCL and the energy ministry. In the same disposal, the MEMD transferred all assets to UEDCL to enhance service territory operations.

Eng. Protaze Tibyakinura, Chief Engineering and Technical Services Officer for UEDCL’s Central Service Territory, guaranteed the public of a smooth transfer. “We have great experience handling such takeovers without raising public alarm. In the last ten years, we’ve effectively taken over and revived four concessions,” he said.

In the same spirit, Jonan Kiiza, UEDCL spokesperson, underlined the key changes expected during this time period, which include vending procedures, local offices, and expanded digital platforms, among others. “UEDCL does not accept cash; all services are paid for by the customer using the accessible digital financial platforms (Stanbic Bank and DFCU) and mobile money (Airtel and MTN). Mr. Kiiza also stated that the company has been upgrading meters around the country, which will be done as soon as we onboard our new customers who were formerly under KRECS. UEDCL has a 24-hour call center and lively social media platforms to assist consumers at their convenience.

UEDCL stressed its commitment to its employees during the takeover process, with the board pledging that job possibilities will be prioritized for existing personnel.

UEDCL is also preparing to reclaim its assets, which were previously leased and assigned to Umeme Limited for a period of 20 years. The GoU is very dedicated to ensuring that this transaction is completed effectively and that there are no service interruptions.