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Museveni Attributes Persistent Power Outages to Use of Old Electric Poles, Wires

President Yoweri Museveni has attributed the persistent power blackouts to the continued use of old electric poles and transmission wires. 

Many districts in the country, including Gulu and Arua, are experiencing acute power shortages and there hasn’t been any clear explanation despite the country generating more power than ever.

 Delivering the State of the Nation Address on Thursday, Museveni said that out-dated systems are being used to transmit power.

He says that in the last one year, a total of 206.6MW was added to the power generation system. Of the new capacity, 183MW was from Isimba Hydropower project commissioned in March 2019.

Some 23.6MW was from smaller projects funded under the GETFiT (Global Energy Transfer Feed-in Tariff) projects funded by donors. In total, the country now generates 1200MW.

The president said that during the 2018/2019 financial year, government-commissioned electricity transmission line projects totalling to 630km.  This brings the total length of High Voltage grid coverage to 2,258km, he said. 

He listed a couple of lines that have been completed, including 132kV Mbarara - Nkenda 160km transmission Line last February; 220kV Kawanda-Masaka transmission line and associated substations, 137km,(Masaka, Kawanda and Mbarara) project was switched-on last December.

The other is the 220kV Mbarara- Mirama hill 65 km power transmission lines and associated substations project was completed and also switched-on, December 2018.

Capacity to transmit power from the source to the final users has particularly been the concern of observers and businesses, saying while they were happy with increased generation, the transmission part must match that gusto lest people might fail to access it.

Officials at Ministry of Finance have said government will have to find money from whatever source to fund the overhauling of the transmission line –, especially the high voltage lines. 

High voltages lines help transmit power that feed powerful industries. The President said government’s rural electrification programme focus has mainly been on grid extension projects, reaching out to connect individual households. 

“Government has consequently implemented over 10,000 km of Medium Voltage (MV) power lines and approximately 9,000 km of Low Voltage (LV) distribution power lines. This has translated into the connections of over 1.3 million customers onto the national grid and the increment of the rural electrification access rate from 1% in 2001 to over 13% in 2019,” Museveni said.

“This means that a total of about 7.8 million Ugandans are now linked to grid power. Additionally, a total of about 3million people access power off grid.”

  Museveni did not pay much attention to the price of electricity, which has kept more people excluded from using power.  He said the cost of power now is at 7.91 per unit and intends to bring it to five US cents.  These rates apply to factories. Small consumers and households still pay expensively.