A wind of fortune has once again blown on Uganda courtesy of the country’s power regulator-Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA).
ERA on Thursday once again, did the country proud after it was voted the best to host the Secretariat of the Independent Regulatory Board of the Eastern Africa Power Pool.
This was at IRB board meeting that took place in Kigali.
Uganda had a few months ago, bidded to host this secretariat but was facing competition from other members until on Thursday, when her request was sealed!
The secretariat will now be hosted at the old ERA house in Nakasero. This latest development however, cannot pass as a simple task, it is rather a big effort by three powerful women driving the energy sector.
Hereunder, we bring you brief facts about the powerful women who are driving the sector to the current progress the country is celebrating.
Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu
She’s the Minister for Energy and Mineral development. Nankabirwa is the political head of the energy sector and is the one who oversees policy implementation within the sector. As a minister, she’s directly responsible for all the blame and successes that goes on in this ESI and is the one who pleads for the sector at cabinet level.
Therefore, the entities within the sector including regulator (ERA) and all electricity utility companies always seek her opinion on any matter affecting the sector. She joined energy in 2021 as a minister succeeding Mary Gorreti Kitutu. Since her coming on board, a lot of success stories have been registered. These include new power generation sources/dams, ERA being voted to host the regional power regulatory body, ERA getting a new office among others. By law, the minister appoints the board of ERA and the Chairperson of the board. Nankabirwa however, presides over a sector which is currently suffering rampant vandalism of electricity infrastructure, a challenge that threatens the numerous strides so far registered.
Dr. Sarah Wasagali Kanaabi
She’s the ERA’s board chairperson otherwise referred to as the Authority Chairperson.
Wasagali is an economist with varied experience in administration, teaching, research and policy formulation. She has taught for the last 22 years at IUIU and at Kyambogo. She’s a renowned researcher and has served on various boards of public and private sector interest. She heads a team of four other members of the board at ERA including Prof. Edward Ddumba, Eng. Erias Kiyemba, Amb. Joan Rwabyomere and Eng. Joseph Oteng Otongo. Her 5-member board consists of people of high moral standing and competence appointed by the energy minister with approval from cabinet.
The law empowers the authority Chairperson together with his or her members of the board to supervise the secretariat. The secretariat is headed by the CEO who reports to the Chairperson/board which is also supervised by the minister.
This therefore, means that any achievements that have taken place at ERA, the board, secretariat and the minister have been working as a team.
Eng. Ziria Waako Tibalwa
She’s an electrical engineer with a Masters in this field having obtained it from Makerere University. She also has an MBA obtained from Walden university. She’s been active in this field since 1993 and has risen through the ranks to become the country’s CEO of Electricity Regulatory Authority.
Ziria, who’s married to Mr. Paul Waako a Physician and Academic has been at the whelm of the regulatory body since November 2016 having replaced Benon Mutambi who was promoted to PS ministry of internal affairs at the time. Initially, prior to her confirmation, Ziria served as acting CEO for four months and exhibited a high degree of effeciency which pursuaded government to confirm her as CEO on March 27 2017 to date.
Immediately she assumed office, ERA the following year 2018 scooped the top position in Africa in the Electricity Regulatory Index conducted by African Development Bank. ERA has up to date, defended this tittle for now fourth year running!
Not only has she scooped this, just this week, ERA was voted the best by regional countries to host the Regional Regulatory board, an achievement ERA’s Senior Communications Officer (also a woman) Aminah Namuddu says presents opportunities for Uganda to develop expertise in regional power trading.
Under the same term by Ziria, ERA now has a new magnificent home. The smart green building is fitted with the state of the art technology and yet it also promotes environment. According to Ziria, the new premises are a reassurance to stakeholders of ERA’s commitment to ensuring a sustainable electricity supply for Socioeconomic transformation.
“The landmark project is a testament of careful planning and diligent supervision that has seen the authority make a remarkable saving of over Shs7.6bn. Initially, the budget had been put at Shs34.3bn but ERA managed to pull it off at a record Shs26.7bn” she says.
Under her management, ERA also has various intiatives including the Domestic Declining Block tariff for domestic customers or cooking tariff. It’s basically meant to encourage people to respect the environment by abandoning use of biomass for cooking and resort to electricity. ERA has since put a special tariff for cooking.
The CEO according to the Electricity Act, sits on the board as an ex-officio without voting rights and reports to the board. Other women who have served in the sector as political heads include Mary Gorreti Kitutu, Eng. Irene Muloni and Syda Bbumba. Unlike Kitutu and Bbumba, Muloni is also an electrical engineer and worked as Executive Director of the defunct Uganda Electricity Board which gave birth to three successor companies including UEGCL, UETCL and UEDCL. She’s now a senior presidential advisor on energy as well as woman MP Bulambuli district.