As government moves to increase access to electricity, power regulator-Electricity Regulatory Authority [ERA] has warned the public against using unqualified electricians to do wiring of their premises.
According to ERA board chairperson Dr. Sarah Wasagali Kanaabi, the use of uncertified electricians known as Kamyufus in electrical installation in people’s premises is still a major challenge that needs to be addressed through concerted efforts. She explained that using unqualified electricians has led to loss of lives, property and revenue to government.
“We still face a challenge of use of unqualified people to wire premises in the villages. We urge the public to use certified people. These people are tested and found to be professionally capable of doing the job of wiring the premises” she said.
She said that the role of ERA is to ensure that customers enjoy safe and reliable electricity, adding that government has got money to roll out power.
“So, we need these people [electricians]. I urge the Kamyufus to come to the [ERA] Installation Committee. They will be tested, assessed and trained so that they can get certified and do their job legally” she said.
Dr. Wasagali made the remarks during an Installation Permit Conference for Class D and C Permit holders at Golf Course Hotel under the theme: ‘Promoting Access and Safe Consumption’ organized by ERA.
She said that government’s focus now is to ensure that there’s a transformed society from peasantry to a middle income society wherein, access to electricity has been identified as a core area of emphasis.
“ERA has set focus on three core areas including Affordable tariffs, Growing access to electricity demand and Ensuring reliable electricity and quality of service” she said.
Meanwhile, energy and mineral development minister Ruth Nankabirwa who opened the conference commended ERA for this initiative of interacting with electricians regularly so that they can share challenges and solutions.
“Electricity is very good, its very key but if we don’t handle it well, it becomes dangerous. Therefore, safety is key” she said.
She said with 39% Ugandans still grappling with poverty, government believes that taking safe electricity to these people will do a lot to change their lives. She described electricians as a critical mass that will see government help these poor people get out of poverty. Nankabirwa said currently, Uganda generates 1401.96MW but government wants this increased to 52000MW by 2040. She said already Karuma dam is coming on board with 600MW this year, 840MW for Ayago, 48MW for Muzizi, 392MW at Ariong among other initiatives which she said are all aimed at hitting the 52000MW target.
She said for Ayago, a USD2bn grant has been secured where USD1bn will be for generation, USD500m for evacuation/transmission and USD500m for education.
“This money will not be paid back. Its not a loan, it will remain here. I believe this [boost] will see a significant drop in the cost of electricity.” she said. Nankabirwa added that there is also a USD638m loan from the World Bank under the Energy Access Scale-Up project that has been secured and that by 20th last month, this project started. She said the project targets one million premises.
Nankabirwa named other initiatives aimed at increasing access to electricity to 80% by 2040 including the Hybrid Consumer Connection Framework where connection for No Pole was reduced from Shs720000 to Shs470000. She went further saying that even on this Shs470000, the ministry negotiated with Uganda Development Bank to accept to loan government Shs270000 on consumer’s behalf so that a consumer who can’t manage to pay Shs470000 at once, pays only Shs200000 and pay up the Shs270000 in a period of 8years.
“Because we want to make connection affordable, connection is being eased so that we don’t remain with redundant electricity. Therefore, certified electricians play a critical role to increase access. They prepare consumers’ premises for safe electrification to do business. We want to chase away the Kamyufus [uncertified electricians] so that our people are not fleeced” she said.
In another development, ERA Chief Executive Officer Eng. Ziria Tibalwa Waako noted that irregular electricity connections cause loss of lives and also make electricity expensive. She encouraged electricians to do their job professionally to reduce on losses of any nature caused by illegal power connections. Ziria said ERA so far has trained and certified 2000 electricians and more continue to be assessed and trained before being certified. She said that the cost of electricity continues to be a concern to ERA but added that this is being progressively addressed. Ziria urged the public to turn away from cooking with firewood and embrace cooking with electricity whose tariffs are as low as 412 per unit.