Umeme customer base to hit 1 million in 2016

Saturday January 9 2016

Umeme workers install underground cables in Kampala. PHOTO | FILE

Umeme workers install underground cables in Kampala. PHOTO | FILE 

By MICHAEL WAKABI

Ugandan power distributor Umeme expects to increase its customer base to one million by the end of 2016.

Speaking to The EastAfrican during a tour of a new 40MW substation in Kampala recently, Umeme’s chief operating officer Florence Nsubuga said with a customer base of 790,000, the firm was on course to hit the one million mark sometime this year.

The company that is listed on the Kenyan and Ugandan stock exchanges said it plans to invest between $80 million and $120 million over the next 12 months to connect the additional 200,000 customers on to its prepaid meter platform.

“We are connecting 16,000 new customers a month. So 200,000 should be doable,” Ms Nsubuga said.

Uganda is making huge investments upstream of its electric power subsector amid concerns over the country’s capacity to absorb the additional output.

The subsector has 850MW installed capacity, but only 630MW of this is being used because of the small number of people connected to the grid (14.8 per cent mid-2015), largely as a result of gaps in the transmission and distribution infrastructure. Another 780MW are expected to gradually come on stream this year, when two major projects, Karuma (600MW) and Isimba (183MW), begin to generate power.

Umeme says the new 40MW substation in Namugongo on the eastern flanks of Kampala, with a capacity to supply an additional 40,000 retail customers, is one of three new substations that will be built in the coming months.

“What we are doing now is to improve the quality of supply and ready the network for an anticipated increase in power supply, when Isimba and Karuma come online from late 2016,” said Emmanuel Kiremire, manager for technical services.

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