Unfriendly Power Tariffs: How Uganda Gov’t is Exploiting UMEME as a Scapegoat for Its Electricity Blunders!

Now, Umeme, the principal power distributor, is currently under attack from the President for reportedly hiking the power prices. But truth be told, UMEME doesn’t set prices for power.


Our leaders in government love to pass the buck whenever past faults have come round to disturb them.

After the auction of UCB had gone bad, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni asserted the World Bank and IMF conned him into selling the people’s bank.

When power blackouts became the norm in the past, the president blamed it all on the sixth parliament. He argued MPs of that parliament blocked him from constructing a dam on Karuma River and should take the blame, not him, for the darkness.

Well, Karuma dam was constructed finally. But power outages kept returning now and then, and sometimes visits up to date.

Following Amama Mbabazi’s declaration that he would vie for State House, Museveni faulted his blue-eyed strategist turned nemesis for failing to build the NRM Party. This posture, as if Museveni himself had before then not declared Amama a white man with no blemish at all!

Now, Umeme, the principal power distributor, is currently under attack from the President for reportedly hiking the power prices. But truth be told, UMEME doesn’t set prices for power. 

Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) prices power. ERA is a government agency. So, the agency is ideally obligated and anticipated to price power with the approval and consent of government itself.

The President is on record blaming Syda Bbumba for signing what he refers to a bad power management contract between UMEME and government of Uganda.

Engineer Kabagambe Kaliisa, the former PS of Energy suffered the music too for signing the so-called bad contract with UMEME. He ended up losing his job as well. But what happened to the known policy of collective responsibility? 

Can it be said that the president can leave such big responsibility as the UMEME contract to juniors to handle? Can this be believed honestly when the president is well known for micromanaging everything? Well, everyone’s answer is as good as ours.

Government undertook the agreement to pay for power used by companies engaged in generation of power. Whoever signed the agreement must have done so with the consent and approval of Museveni who is the chief executive officer of Uganda. The CEO cannot escape fault for whatever goes wrong thereafter.

We all know that the dollar keeps fluctuating against the Ugandan shilling from time to time. When that happens, as it often does, everyone in business adjusts accordingly by modifying prices to keep up with the fluctuating dollar.

UMEME doesn’t control the dollar market yet it is required to play by the rules of the game. Government itself can do something about this, albeit doing so can prove unwise in the long run since it can lead to inflation, by flooding the market with more money.

Government knows very well, albeit without revealing it, that the agreement which it renewed with UMEME only a few years back, can be breached at a colossal cost that must be borne by the innocent taxpayer.

One is tempted to ask why government, whose CEO had complained about UMEME, by the way, went ahead and renewed the agreement if at all the prices it sets for power are really exorbitant?

Uganda doesn’t have power problems of power scarcity. Uganda’s problem is too much power that it cannot sell out. It is incumbent upon government therefore, not UMEME or firms involved in generating power, to look outside the country market for excess power in order to woo more investors and build industries itself to solve the challenge of too much power.

Unless cause be shown to the contrary, we are of the firm view the people lambasting UMEME for the high prices are simply politicking with the view of escaping blame for their blunders as we have demonstrated above.


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