The State Minister for Privatisation and Investment, Hon. Evelyn Anite, has assured legislators that government’s plan to create a sole electricity company will ensure provision of affordable and accessible electricity.
Anite said it is the position of government to move away from using middle men in electricity generation, manufacturing and transmission, who she faulted for focusing on profit making at the expense of service delivery.
“The President directed that we should get these middlemen out of the business of providing electricity to citizens and also manufacturing. Middle men are looking at return on investment but government is not looking at return on investment – it will be looking at providing a service that must be cheap and available,” said Anite.
By middlemen, Anite referred to Uganda Electricity Generation Company Ltd, Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd, Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Ltd and Umeme among others.
The minister said that the successor electricity company will be fully owned by government with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development as the major shareholder with 51 per cent and the finance ministry as the minority shareholder.
Anite was speaking before the Committee of Environment and Natural Resources, on Thursday, 10 March 2022 where she had been invited to make responses on the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022.
MPs said citizens had been fleeced money by the commercial companies currently running the electricity sector who they accuse for failing to ensure consistent and affordable power.
“All companies working in the electricity sector do not offer good services but are making money – umeme has been expensive. We think one company will ensure citizens will get power at affordable costs,” said Hon. Eddie Kwizera (NRM, Bukimbiri County).
The vice-chairperson of the committee, Hon. Emely Kugonza accused the electricity companies for conniving in the vandalism of electricity power lines and equipment, a practice he said was rampant countrywide.
“I want to strongly believe that people who are vandalising electricity lines must be insiders – technical people who even connive with the Police and are walking free,” Kugonza said.
Hon. Eddie Kwizera (R) said that current players in the electricity sector were only making money.
Kwizera tasked Anite to explain why the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development has failed to complete the liquidation process of the defunct Uganda Electricity Board (UEB) and why its staff’s pension have not been paid.
“The Attorney General told us that they are waiting for certification of liquidation from the finance ministry to complete liquidation. We must justify why we have UEB in this bill,” said Kwizera adding that, “UEB had buildings almost everywhere in the country and if they sold all properties and failed to pay the pensioners, who then took the money?”
Anite reiterated that government has started the process of paying pension for staff of UEB and other companies whose staff were not paid at the time of privatisation.
“Government has started providing financing for employees of UEB under the Ministry of Information and National Guidance because we want to compensate even staff of other companies such as Uganda Telecom Ltd who were not paid during the time of privatisation,” she said.
Regarding the proceeds from the sale of UEB properties, Anite said she has for the past six years demanded for the report in vain.