Uganda’s main electricity distribution company Umeme, like so many others across the continent, has faced numerous challenges over the years. Not least in the last decade and a half in its current guise under a concession management arrangement for the distribution network following the electricity sector reforms at the turn of the century.
This interview was originally published in African Power & Energy Elites 2021.
At that time, electrification in the small East African country was less than 10%, corresponding to fewer than 3 million of the then 30 million population, and mainly in the urban areas.
Electricity losses were high, around 40%, and Umeme’s collection rates were running at less than 40% due to these losses and non-payments.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s more and more utilities in Africa turned to a prepayment metering model. Around 2010, Umeme, headquartered in the capital Kampala and whose distribution concession covers most of the urban areas of Uganda and mainly around Kampala and Entebbe, decided to do likewise.