Energy Activists Want Muloni Censured Over Umeme

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An energy activist group has said non-renewal of the UMEME’s concession as electricity distributor will not end what it calls endemic corruption and mismanagement of the electricity sector.

While Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) welcomes President Museveni’s directive against renewal of UMEME’s concession, it is calling for more action including punitive measures against Energy Minister Irene Muloni and her ministry officials.

AFIEGO says Engineer Muloni should be censured by Parliament for failure to implement the recommendations of the General Salim Saleh probe into UMEME.

The Salim Saleh  investigations report into the high cost of electricity in Uganda was handed to the then Energy minister Eng. Hillary Onek in early October 2009.

The report highlighted a number of irregularities in setting the power tariffs and faulted the biding process leading to the award and the signing of concession agreement with UMEME and ESKOM.

AFIEGO notes that the Saleh interim tariff review report has never been implemented by the Minister.

President Museveni in a March 12th letter directed the Ministry of Energy not to renew the UMEME concession.

He also directed the Inspectorate of Government to investigate UMEME over suspected exploitation of consumers in connivance with the Energy Ministry officials.

AFIEGO in a statement described the president’s directive as a positive step towards cleaning Uganda’s electricity sector but observes that it will not result into lowering tariffs as well as addressing the many challenges in the sector.

It says the mismanagement in the electricity sector is characterised by single-sourcing of companies to build dams among others.

President Museveni is personally blamed for having directed the Ministry of Energy to award the Karuma and Isimba dam projects to Sinohydro and China International Water and Electric Corporation, respectively, without open bidding.

AFIEGO Chief Executive Officer, Dickens Kamugisha, in an interview said the country would have negotiated better deals had it opened the construction of the two dams to open bids.

The Saleh report on tariff review had faulted the procurement process for UMEME and Eskom. It observed that in both cases of Eskom and Umeme, there is no evidence that the procurement process went through any competitive process.

Kamugisha says the lack of competitive bidding or single-sourcing means that selection of companies with the best terms including a lower return on investment is ignored.

“It also encourages corruption as government officials collude with the investors to guarantee the investor high returns on investment in exchange for bribes. This results in high end-user tariffs that citizens shoulder,” reads part of the statement

AFIEGO says there is poor leadership at the Ministry of Energy, blaming the ministry for failure to implement parliamentary and government committee recommendations like the 2009 Interim Review of Electricity Tariff Committee headed by Gen. Salim Saleh and the 2014 adhoc parliamentary committee that investigated electricity failures and called for termination of UMEME’s contract.

AFIEGO further blames the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) over failure to stop what it calls UMEME’s exploitation of consumers.

“ERA, which should be protecting Ugandans from UMEME’s exploitation, has occasionally come out to defend UMEME. For instance, when UNBS confirmed in January 2018 that over 92% of the electricity metres including UMEME’s metres that it tested between June and December 2017 were faulty, ERA, through an article published in the newspapers, defended UMEME saying that its metres were not faulty.”

In a related development, AFIEGO calls on government to stop payments to Jacobsen and Electro Maxx for expensive thermal power that Ugandans do not consume.

“The fact that these companies continue to be paid from taxpayers’ money when Uganda is generating more power – over 900mw- than citizens can consume is gross mismanagement of the highest order,” said the statement.

AFIEGO among other recommendations is calling for the amendment of the 1999 Electricity Act to among other changes guarantee the independence of Electricity Generation Authority.

Minister Muloni is yet to comment on the matter. Efforts to seek a comment from her about the allegations were futile because her known mobile number was switched off.

– UgandaRadioNetwork 

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3 thoughts on “Energy Activists Want Muloni Censured Over Umeme”

  1. This is Kisanja Akuna Mucheso.
    One among others of the issues with Umeme are:
    (i) Umeme is charging service fee on prepaid meters purchased by customers. How do you justify charging customers user fees for ‘yaka’ hand set which is like a cell phone. Is this fair?
    (ii) When paying bills, one is also charged by payment platforms for paying the bill. How would one explain this. Its like the analogy of being charged for paying for air time in the communication industry.
    (iii) while seeking for power connections, Ugandans have to pay for infrastructure (poles, ABC wire, yaka and wiring, then pay for consent from where the power source is. Secondly if you go beyond two poles, this complicates the matter. It turns to be a project of 3.5 million and above. How does ordinary Ugandan raise this money. No wonder the electricity coverage is still below 30 percent.
    (iv) The Cost of Administration is humongous, about six agencies e.g. ERA, EDCL, ETCL, EGCL, UMEME, Uganda Rural Electrification Agency, MEMD. You would expect electricity coverage countrywide to be above 60 percent by now. Something is wrong some where?
    (v) I have witnessed that the YAKA meter, even after turning off all gadgets continues to count. I called the officials who came to verify and the story was not different at all. They started blaming the wiring. But the wiring was done by the certified UMEME individuals. They assessed and found no problem with the wiring. No Answers. How do you explain this.
    (vi) Higher electricity tariffs , result to depletion of the environment cover. As it is not affordable, so people resort to cheaper sources of energy. The electricity in Ethiopia is cheaper, domestic is less than US 3 cents/kwh. For example, If one imports power from Ethiopia, the cost of transporting and providing power is estmated to just less than 5 US cents /KWH. Country men, its advisable that government provides social infrastructure for the benefit of its citizen and for the growth of our economy and and development of our country to middle income. Affordability is key to social infrastructure development.
    (vii) The list is very long on issues, even after paying for connection charges and infrastructure, you are still told materials are not available. How do you expect such an entity to deliver efficient, effective and reliable services to the citizens. If government does not rescue as we are finished.

    What advice do I offer given the highlights above? Please, Re-nationalize UMEME for the improved power coverage and better cost effective, efficient and value for money services. For God and my Country.

  2. Museveni himself might not be a bad guy but guys below him are just thugs and do not care about the plight of others. Such pple need to be put on a public firing squard. That’s why we shouldn’t over blame Amin’s actions of the time.

  3. Bravo, My brother for your wide research ,actually what you have highlighted has been long over due to be detected by the people
    in authority unless something went wrong somewhere as you observed !!
    our leaders and countrymen need to wake up and stop this kind of exploitation by the so called investors who are not for Ugandans but just to exploit them

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