By Namugerwa Martha
Umeme has increased its capital investment by 13% after getting shs1 billion from grasshopper businesses thus targeting to reduce distribution losses from 17.8% to 16%.
Since people use electricity lights to attract grasshoppers, the business becomes one of Umeme’s profitable services which occur usually two months a year yet bringing in much money for the company.
Selestino Babungi the Executive Director of Umeme revealed this during the company’’s annual general meeting which was held at Sheraton hotel in Kampala today.
“We have a partnership with grasshopper businesses that are working and we shall make them better and,” Babungi said.
On the other hand, Babungi said that their commitment to safer networks is unwavering and that 65% of their customers are now connected on yaka and are on pre paid metering which effectively removes the 4 visiting sessions from customer’s premises.
“We were able to deliver and install a prepaid service for government institutions and we are seeing efficiencies and behavior change,” Babungi said.
He added that 50% of service calls are through digital platforms including the mobile app which makes them reach everybody in need of their services on his/her preferred channel.
“We continue to train the people we need and every year we train a minimum of 20 graduate engineers for effective distribution of our services even in rural areas,” Babungi added.
He further added that they have commissioned a brand new substation to Muniko in Lugazi in order to support the growing demand of power from the steel industries.
Umeme also blamed power outages on the weather.
The power distributor says climate change is partly to blame for the frequent power cutouts being experienced in many parts of Uganda.
Addressing the media on the sidelines of the Umeme annual general meeting in Kampala, Thursday, Umeme Board Chairman, and Patrick Bitature said that of lately rains and winds are rather stronger due to changing climatic conditions.
Uganda has been experiencing more than normal rains since February this year. Ironically, last year when the country experienced prolonged drought, power cutouts were also frequent.
Bitature said although they have been expanding the power network and clearing the way leaves, trees have been frequently falling and knocking down power lines causing outages in several parts of the country.
Bitature however says that they are happy that the public and their customers are increasingly becoming demanding of better service, a culture they want entrenched.
Umeme Managing Director Selestino Babungi said power outages remain the utility company’s biggest challenge, promising that they are continuously building capacity to improve the situation.
Uganda presently enjoys power surplus with an installed power capacity of 822 megawatts. The government’s target is 3,500 megawatts by end of 2018 and above.