Since 2018 todate, Uganda has been ranked the best on the African continent with a robust electricity regulation!
The country through Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) has for four years defeated other countries in rankings done by the African Development Bank which every year does a study and publishes an annual Electricity Regulatory Index (ERI) report.
This index report shows how various regulators in Africa have performed during the year under review!
It’s latest report of 2021 indicates that ERI study covered 43 countries assessing their impact on the performance of their electricity sectors.
The report indicates that no country in the region or even at continental level beats Uganda/ERA, a position it has ably defended for now four years uninterrupted!
The 2021 report shows that Uganda was the best followed by Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia and Egypt.
John Ntende, the manager Corporate Planning at ERA, attributes this success to reforms the country undertook in the last 20years which among other things gave birth to an independent electricity regulator (ERA) in 2000 following the enactment of the Electricity Act 1999 which also disbanded then UEB into three successor companies including UEGCL, UEDCL and UETCL.
Under the law, ERA was given mandate to regulate all aspects of generation, transmission, distribution, sale, import and export of electrical energy in Uganda.
“ERA has earned it’s top ranking because of its efficient regulatory framework. It has in place several guidelines, codes, processes and standards to streamline how it delivers it’s mandate. We have regulation and guidelines for tariff determination, investment, grid management, off-grid development, addressing grievances in the industry and many key initiatives” he says.
Indeed Julius Wandera, ERA’s director Corporate and Consumer Affairs adds that ‘this excellent performance is attributed to the country’s regulatory framework that has in two decades period, attracted over USD7billion of private investment’
Wandera however, says even as the sector continues to shine, it’s successes are affected by malpractices such as vandalism of electricity installations and illegal power use.
“These two vices cause losses to the Industry and frustrate government’s efforts towards increasing access, delivering affordable and reliable electricity supply. We continue to tighten our grip and we have successfully secured convictions in court. However, we continue to rely on public support and vigilance in bringing these culprits to book” he says.
Ntende says that the authority has a robust system for managing compliance of licensees to applicable terms and conditions in additon to making the tariff process consultative and transparent. Other factors include a robust stakeholder management process, certification under ISO for quality assurance among others.
He says the initiatives have since led to customer base increase from 405000 in 2010 to now 1.65million as a result of government initiatives to accelerate access.
“The tariff is nearly reflective and the tariff setting process is transparent and independent. Supply and demand have risen in tandem. Generation capacity has increased to 1352.52MW in June 2021” he said.
Currently, ERA is supervising 44 generating plants, 17 plants under construction, 22 projects under feasibility study, 8 distribution utilities and one transmission company. On top of this, the number of certified electricians has grown from 250 in 2003 to 2599 in 2020, while distribution losses have also declined from about 34% in 2000 to 17.6% in 2021.
While launching the Consumer Protection and Installation Permits Center recently, ERA C.E.O Eng. Ziria Waako Tibalwa said they are now looking at increasing the number of wire persons to 10000.
“We’re excited about this initiative. It aims to protect the interests of electricity consumers and also focus on the growth of the number of electricians to make use of electricity clean and safe” she said.
ERA MANAGEMENT AT A GLANCE
In terms of leadership, ERA is run by a five-member board currently led by Dr. Sarah Wasagali Kanaabi. The board or otherwise called the authority is appointed by the minister for Energy and Mineral Development. It is this board which in turn appoints the Chief Executive Officer currently being Eng. Ziria Waako Tibalwa.
The CEO manages the secretariat which is made up of five directorates including finance, corporate and consumer affairs, economic regulation, technical regulation and legal services. The staff to the secretariat are recruited through a competitive process and it is this qualified staff that is making miracles for Uganda to shine at the continental level!
A self-funding entity, ERA according to Ntende derives much of its revenues from license fees and minimal generation levy.
“The sector reforms have transformed the ESI in Uganda. The regulatory governance have been streamlined. This has bolstered investor confidence in the sector. The regulatory framework have been developed and implemented which has led to an improvement in access rate, reliability and quality service” Ntende says.