Uganda’s Electricity Sector Overview
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The current status of Uganda’s Electricity Supply Industry
Uganda’s Electricity sub-Sector is run under a liberalized set up following its Liberalization in 1997 and the enactment of the Electricity Act, 1999. The Liberalization and enactment of the Electricity Act, 1999, mandated the unbundling of Uganda Electricity Board (UEB) which was a monopoly managing generation, transmission, distribution, sale, import, and export of Uganda’s Electricity. Uganda’s Electricity Supply Industry is now regulated under the Electricity Act, 1999, Chapter 145, the Energy Policy, the National Environment Act, Chapter 153, and the Statutory Instruments and Guidelines issued by the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA).
The structure of Uganda’s Electricity Supply Industry
Uganda’s Electricity Supply Industry is divided into Three (3) independent segments:
The Generation segment has a combination of the Government of Uganda-owned power plants, Independent Power Producers (IPPs), and Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). The Transmission Segment is wholly owned by the Government of Uganda. The Distribution segment, just like Generation, is also liberalized and has private players, as well as a Government of Uganda-owned Distribution Company – the Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (UEDCL).
The Uganda Electricity Supply Industry Market Structure
The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD)
The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development is the Policy head of Uganda’s Electricity Supply Industry to whom ERA is directly answerable. The mandate of the MEMD is to establish and promote the development of Energy and Mineral Resources for Social and Economic Development. The Ministry provides Policy guidance in the development and exploitation of the Energy resources and works with the Industry Regulator to create an enabling environment in order to attract investment in the development, provision, and utilization of Energy resources. The ministry can be accessed at https://www.energyandminerals.go.ug.
The Electricity Regulatory Authority
The Electricity Regulatory Authority is the legal supervisor of Uganda’s Electricity Supply Industry. ERA was established in the year 2000 as a body corporate, with the capability to sue or be sued. It consists of Five (5) Board (Authority) Members appointed by the Minister responsible for Energy, with the approval of the Cabinet. ERA also has a Secretariat that comprises of Technical Staff who operationalize the decisions made by the Board.
Functions of ERA
ERA is mandated by the Electricity Act, 1999, to issue Licenses with the attendant License Terms and Conditions for Electricity Generation, Transmission, Distribution, Sale, Import, and Export of Electricity. ERA is also mandated to establish a Tariff structure and approve rates of charges, among other functions. ERA is duty-bound to conduct its functions in an Open, Objective, Fair, Reasonable, Non-discriminatory, Transparent manner, and also promote Fair Competition in the Liberalized Electricity Supply Industry. ERA ensures that Utilities earn a reasonable rate of return on their investments necessary to provide a Quality Service at Affordable Prices to the Electricity Consumer.
Current Electricity Generation
The Electricity Regulatory Authority has since its establishment presided over a steadily growing sub-Sector that has eliminated load shedding due to increased generation and accelerated Electricity Access for End-Users.
To ensure Sustainable Electricity Supply, ERA has over the years created a conducive regulatory environment and incentives aimed at diversifying the Country’s Generation Mix. Uganda’s Power Generation is mainly diversified across Four (4) different sources as follows: -
- Hydro - 1,023.59 MW
- Thermal - 100 MW
- Cogeneration - 63.9 MW
- Grid-connected Solar - 60 MW
Uganda’s Electricity sub-Sector has grown from Three (3) Generation Plants in 2001 to over 40 Plants and is still growing. The Total Installed Generation Capacity has grown from 60 MW in 1954, 400 MW in 2000 to 1237.49 MW as of October 2020. This capacity is expected to rise to 1837.49 MW by mid-2021.
Uganda’s Electricity Transmission is managed by the single operator of the Transmission System - the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (UETCL) (https://www.uetcl.com/), which directly executes Power Purchase Agreements with Independent Power Producers and manages the scheduling and actual dispatching of Power Plants.
The Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd holds a Licenses for the operation of the High Voltage Transmission Grid, the System Operator License, the Export and Import of Electricity License, and the Bulk Supply License.
Because of a conducive regulatory environment created by ERA, a remarkable improvement in the Distribution of Electricity in Uganda has been realized. Energy Losses have been reduced from over 30% at liberalization to 16% in 2020. The Access to Clean Energy rate has also increased and the legally Grid-Connected Customer Base has grown from approximately 180,000 Customers in 2001 to 1,643,288 in 2020, including Off-Grid Customers.
As a way of growing Access to Clean Energy across the Country, ERA has licensed several Electricity Distribution Operators across the Country to serve the hitherto unserved and predominantly rural community. The number of Electricity Distribution Companies now stands at Nine (9). The Distribution Companies are: Umeme Limited, West Nile Rural Electrification Company (WENRECo), Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited (UEDCL), Bundibugyo Electricity Cooperative Society (BECS), Kyegegwa Rural Energy Co-operative Society (KRECS), Pader-Abim Community Multi-Purpose Electric Co-operative Society (PACMECS), Kilembe Investments Limited (KIL), Hydromax, and Kalangala Infrastructure Services Limited (KIS). These companies are operating in various regions of the Country, which has increased Access to Electricity. Access has grown from a perennial 12%-15% to 51% according to the most recent access statistics released by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.
Electricity Consumer protection
ERA as the Regulator of Uganda’s Electricity Supply Industry has an established fully-fledged Consumer Affairs Unit (in the Department of Corporate and Consumer Affairs), which handles Electricity Consumer Complaints that have not been resolved by the Distribution Companies. The Consumer Affairs Unit operates a Contact Center that can be reached by the Public on Telephone Number 0200-506000 during working hours (8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday) and across various online platforms. These several contact points are aimed at promoting Consumer Protection, to give the Consumers the opportunity to be heard when they are unhappy with their Electricity Service.
The Online Platforms available to Consumers through which they can reach ERA are Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Email, and the Website.
Uganda’s Electricity Supply Industry Licensing Process
For information on the Licensing Process and Licensing provisions, please see the independent Licensing menu on the ERA Website.