Industry

Umeme to dump wooden poles for concrete ones

Electricity distributor Umeme Ltd has said in the near future, they will do away with the erection of electricity wires on wooden poles for concrete poles as a measure to save the environment by reducing on the cutting down of trees.

Umeme Chairman Patrick Bitature told the media at the company’s Annual General Meeting held at Serena Kampala Hotel that concrete poles last longer than wooden poles and that it will also help them to contribute to the saving of the environment.

“Concrete poles last more than 50 to 60 years. Wooden poles, when erected in a swampy area can’t last more than 10 years. This new measure will also help us on the loses we have been encountering by redoing the networks,” said Bitature.

He said the concrete poles will also save them from scenarios of bush burners, where wooden electricity poles get burnt and they lose an entire line because of bush burning. Bitature believes that with concrete poles, such losses won’t be encountered.

“In Swamps, wooden poles rot, get eaten by termites and we have to change networks every after a few years. The good thing is concrete is becoming cheaper so, in the next years, we shall roll out concrete poles,” said Bitature.

Umeme sets aside US$70 million for network upgrade despite contract uncertainty

In East Africa, Rwanda and Kenya use concrete poles to erect their electricity.

On the long-standing issue of the renewal of the concession that will elapse in six years’ time, Bitature said the government has invited them to renegotiate the concession in order to have a longer period of time.

Umeme employees sorting out wooden poles at their yard in Lugogo Kampala. In the near future, the company will stop using wooden poles.
Umeme employees sorting out wooden poles at their yard in Lugogo Kampala. In the near future, the company will stop using wooden poles.

“Our target is to have a new concession extension of about 20 years. We look forward to the completion of the new concession discussion in three to six months and by December this year, we can sign the new concession,” said Bitature.

Selestino Babungi the Umeme Ltd  Managing Director said they hope to add 300,000 new customers to the Umeme grid this year.

During the releasing the audited financial results for the year ended 31 December 2018, Babungi said Customers connected to the grid, within the Umeme footprint, increased by 14.8% to 1.3 million compared to 2017.

“Over the 7 year period to 2018, Umeme exceeded the regulatory customer base target by 0.3 million customers (30%). We acknowledge the need to accelerate the connections rate under the Government’s Electricity Connections Policy to achieve the National Development Plans,” he said.

He said the energy losses for 2018 were 16.6% compared to 17.2% for 2017 and were 27.3% in 2011.