UMEME, the electricity distribution company of Uganda, was founded in 2005 when the government sold the assets to an international consortium. At the end of 2009, significant achievements had been made in upgrading the sector, however the involvement of new shareholders radically changed the face of this organisation and its delivery to consumers.
Within a year, UMEME had spent some US$100-million on improvements and enabled 40,000 new consumers to enjoy the benefits of electricity. Given that only 7% of Uganda’s 33-million people have access to the grid, the electrification of consumers remains a primary goal.
UMEME’s belief is that to fuel development, electricity must also be affordable and to this end a new billing system has been implemented and improvements made to the network performance.
Further, a 10,000 meter pilot project is underway to assess the roll-out of prepayment throughout the country.
Working in partnership with Conlog, the programme aims to provide consumers with a user-friendly mechanism to access electricity, without all the strings associated with conventional billing systems – such as estimated bills, meter readings, unexpectedly high bills and bad debts.
A key success factor has been the management of the project, with all role players intrinsically involved in the project. In addition, Conlog has deployed onsite project managers to guide and support the programme. Meanwhile UMEME have undertaken massive awareness campaigns to ensure consumers are involved from the inception of the project and are supported every step of the way.