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Applicants for self-funded connections to power grid increase

Umeme Managing Director Selestino Babungi inspecting the over sh7b new Tororo rural access line built recently (PHOTO/Courtesy).

The number of applicants for self-funded connections to the electricity grid has risen following resumption of anti-power theft operations.

According to power distributor Umeme, from March 22 to 25 the utility received averagely 324 applications daily, up from 298 every day in January.

“This rise was partly driven by the ongoing anti-power theft operation in Kampala, where the illegally connected are being encouraged to formally apply for connection, Umeme said.

Applicants opting to pay their connections to the grid part with Shs720,883 in case they will not require a pole and either Shs2.3 million or 2.7 million in case they will need one pole with uninsulated or insulated cable.

The government used to subsidise the connection cost, leaving applicants to pay just Shs20,000 to inspect their premises.

However, due to the emergency of COVID-19 respiratory infections, the government rechannelled some of its financial resources to containing the spread of the infection, providing food rations and facemasks to sections of the population.

Furthermore, the government started enforcing a lockdown, restricting the movement of people save for essential service providers.

As a result, the power distributor suspended its anti-electricity theft operations in March 2020.

With free electricity connections halted, and free electricity connections put on hold, some individuals and businesses started stealing power, leading to the increase in total energy losses from 16.4% in 2019 to 17.5% in 2020.

The lockdown has now been lifted, Umeme has resumed drives to check the stealing of power, and the Energy ministry has directed that those willing to pay the full cost of connection to the grid do so.

At least 12,813 individuals have applied for self-funded connections in the period between 10 December 2020 to 25 March 2021.

The utility connects this category of applicants within 15 working days. Those waiting for government subsidies take longer.

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