UMEME on track to increase connections from 1.9 million to 3 million in 2024

UMEME Ltd has invested sh9b in the revamping of the Hoima substation – which is located in Kinubi Cell on the outskirts of the city – from six megawatts to 20 megawatts.

The substation, which is part of UMEME’s asset replacement project, aims to improve capacity and supply more customers reliably.

The works, which commenced on October 15 and will be commissioned late December this year, include installation of two new high-capacity power transformers, a power house, switch gears, transformers and integration of power lines from Masindi’s Kinyara Sugar Works generation line.

During a recent media briefing at the aforesaid substation, officials from Uganda’s main electricity distribution company said that the project is foresighted in nature and aims to meet the growing energy demand as Hoima’s population surges.

With the ongoing oil production activities in the area and now that Hoima has been upgraded to city status, UMEME said that it expects demand for electricity to grow significantly over the coming years.

Paul Ssempira, Western Uganda’s regional head of operations at UMEME Ltd, said at the moment they serve 23,000 customers in Hoima – majority them single-phased customers.

Ssempira said that apart from oil and gas, there is going to be growth on the industrial front and in personal income, meaning that the power utility company is going to see increased demand on the domestic front.

“This is a proactive project to ensure that there are no surprises in future because we know there is going to be growth,” he said.

UMEME Managing Director Selestino Babungi told reporters that the old substation had become derelict and overwhelmed by the growing demand.

$35m master plan

He said this is part of UMEME’s master plan where this year alone the utility company is investing $35m (about sh100b.

Part of the money will be invested in one substation in Hoima and the company also plans to switch a station in Jinja to tap into the industrial growth at the Jinja-Kayunga belt.

UMEME Officials during their recent site visit at the ongoing works at a substation in Kinubi Cell on the outskirts of Hoima city. Photo: Robert Atuhairwe.

Babungi said his company is also building dedicated lines to major hospitals, including Hoima, Fort Portal, Mbale and Entebbe to provide reliable power supply.

He said as part of preparing for the anticipated growth, the company will soon launch the government’s One Million Free Connections project, which is targeting 600,000 connections and will cost $147m.

Over the last three years, Uganda’s energy sector has grown by 10 per cent in volume. And over the same period, UMEME has also increased its workforce, recruiting over 1,000 technicians to drive connections in response to Uganda’s increased demand for electricity.

Babungi said that UMEME is equally ready to meet the growing demand in Gulu, northern Uganda.

The city will be interconnected to the Kole transmission substation, meaning that Gulu’s power will no longer be coming from Lira which, however, will remain as an option in case Kole goes off.

Kole will be connected to the 600 megawats power dam at Karuma Falls, which is also undergoing commissioning processes.

In central Uganda, Babungi said his company is going to put a transmission substation in Kasana and another between Bombo and Gayaza in response to growing demand.

The national electricity grid now has about 1.9 million customers, and will hit 2 million customers by the end of 2023 and 3 million when the government’s Scale-up Programme starts in January 2024.

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