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Museveni Attacks Umeme, Reveals Why He Has Refused To Renew Its Contract

A Customer care worker explains about different voltage metres at the Lugogo Umeme Centre in Kampala. Photo/NATION MEDIA GROUP

Uganda’s power distributor, Umeme limited is yet to convince President Yoweri Museveni that its concession deserves to be renewed.

Umeme’s power distribution concession is due to expire in March 2025 having started in March 2005 when the South African company took over electricity distribution in Uganda and the policy has a provision for negotiations into a concessionaire to start three years to the expiry of its concession and apply for a renewal of the concession.

However, the talks to renew the contract between Umeme and the Government have not yielded fruits since 2018.

During Umeme’s 6th Annual General Meeting in May 2019, Patrick Bitature, the Chairman, Board of Directors of Umeme revealed that the power distributor was optimistic of getting a new concessional deal by end of the year (2019).

Speaking to Ugandans during today’s  58th Independence Day celebrations held at State House Entebbe, President Museveni revealed why he has refused to renew umeme’s contract.

 “We are working hard to evacuate power from Karuma dam to manufacturing hub and export excess power. There is a group called Umeme. These are private people who want to make high profits. Can you make high profits from bone marrow and then we survive? We are debating that. If you are looking for high profits, there are areas you can go to; invest in clubs, casinos I will not follow you,” Museveni said.

He added that there are people who have been pushing him to approve Umeme’s concession, but he has refused to bow down to their pressure.

“…when it comes to electricity, this is a strategic issue. We now have enough electricity, it can be sold cheaply to the manufacturers but people who want to make business are the ones pushing up,” said Museveni.

It should be recalled that Government through the Ministry of Energy embarked on negotiations into the second concession by power distributor Umeme Limited in 2018, hoping to have talks finalized by 2019, but these have stalled on to date.

Umeme went into early concession negotiations because the company intends to secure funding on long term tenure when the price is low globally and ensure that power tariffs can be brought down.

However, this isn’t the first time President Museveni is expressing his disgust at Umeme.

In March 2018, he wrote a letter warning the Ministry of Energy against renewing Umeme’s concession arguing that the country should be looking for cheaper ways of modernising and expanding the distribution and distribution lines.

Museveni tasked the Ministry of Energy as well as Ministry of Finance to furnish him with details regarding financial reports by Umeme’s of the losses the company was incurring and the investments the entity had undertaken in the country.

The President wrote: “I am now directing you to furnish me with the explanations on all these matters. In the meantime, there should be no question of renewing Umeme’s concession. By copy of this letter, I am also directing the Inspector General of Government to look into these issues.”

The President’s decision to cancel Umeme’s concession was informed by the 2017 audit report by the Auditor General, John Muwanga that indicated that Government lost approximately Shs129Bn to Umeme in depreciation and return on asset since Government entered into contract with the electricity company.

Why Umeme Contract Is Bad For Ugandans, Good For Shareholders

If there is any deal that has been negotiated badly on earth, it is a concession between Umeme and Uganda government to manage power distribution in 2005.

Former Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Energy, Kabagambe Kaliisa was at the center of negotiations of this deal.

Among the mind blowing clauses of the concession that put Uganda in a tight corner include;

 The Government is obliged to pay 120% of the total Umeme investment should the government initiate termination of the contract.

On the other hand, in case Umeme chooses to initiate the termination of the contract, the Government is still obliged to pay 80% of the total Umeme investment. What a deal!

It was also agreed that in the event of natural termination of the contract, government would have to pay 105% of the amount Umeme invested at the time of termination, which would be over Shs294bn.

Natural termination of the contract is when the contract expires and the contractor (Umeme) claims they have not recouped their total investments.

 The agreement also reveals that in case of termination of the contract due to circumstances beyond the control of both parties (Force Majeure), government pays 90% of the invested money.

This would be not less than Shs252bn. Such circumstances include war, riot, strike, crime, flooding or earthquake or volcanic eruptions.

 The contract also obliges the Government to pay an interest of 20% per annum of any outstanding portion of the buyout amount should 91 days elapse after the termination date until it clears the money in full.

 The other clauses that gave Umeme a blank cheque are Section 2.1 (U) (ii) of the Lease and Assignment Agreement, which states that should Umeme be indebted to, say its Ugandan shareholders by the time of terminating the agreement, the government will either pay off or cancel the debt(s).

 Section 9.5 of the Support Agreement removes the immunity of the government from claiming its assets in case Umeme brought any legal proceedings against it.

The contract is heavily skewed in Umeme’s favour, a thing that has made it very hard for Parliament to terminate the distributor’s concession despite the fact that it has become a pain in the lives of Ugandans.

During the agreement, former Finance Minister Gerald Sendaula signed on behalf of the Government, Irene Muloni, the former Energy Minister signed for Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (UEDCL) as the managing director, while former director David Grills signed on behalf of Umeme.

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9 thoughts on “Museveni Attacks Umeme, Reveals Why He Has Refused To Renew Its Contract

  1. Ssekisambu Aziz

    You umeme group you are just thieves. I am sure this company belongs to some thieves in the government because even after the expiry of the contract still government pays hmmm thieves thieves thieves

    • Roland

      This is why we need to be ethical, independent, and develop our country ourselves.foreigners are always greedy.

    • Ruth

      This UMEME contract only benefits them . I can see that the givernment is just to pay for any loss UMEME makes.Government is not benefiiting from the contract at all yet it is the one awarding it. Gerald Sendawula, Irene muloni ,David Grills should be arrested and intorogated on what their intentions were for such a horrible deal to Uganda .

      Paying a unit of Yaka @shs 1000 amidst frequent power cuts and load shedding is a shame and damn expensive

      Then u export power to other countries while ugandans pay for the export deficits- load shedding and frequent power cuts .

      UMEME staff get hefty salaries at the expense of its customers. UMEME should go and we get a cheaper distributor who will make electricity cheaper for all. Mr. Museveni, please DONT give up- show UMEME the exit.

  2. Martin cove

    Papa don’t give up show those thieves that you are still a strong man

  3. MUBANGIZI VINCENT

    I applied in march 2020 and paid everything but up to now no connection.

  4. Nyankori

    UMEME is a disgrace to the country (Uganda). UMEME power deal with goverment is one of the worst mischief this country has had. Certainly there are powerful, unseen hands of the devil behind UMEME existance right from the bad deal. Time is now for Mr Museveni to demonstrate to Ugandans that he is in charge of the country and not the Mafias. If it all ends as a lip service, then Ugandans might think that the big man is actually part of the mafia.

  5. Francis Ogwang

    What a shame that government can allow such a bad contract. With the kizanja akunamujezo, couldn’t this be addressed. Col. Nakalema should swing into action and arrest Irene Muloni, Kalisa Kabagambe and Gerald Ssendawula for not being patriots. I applied for power in August 2019 but up-to now nothing has happened. Very high level of incompetence. By the way how can we be sure that yaka is not cheating the customers. What is the essence of paying service fee? Because everything has been automated. Very disappointed.

  6. KATTY GORDON

    I concur with the president and his sympathizers on the high cost of power in uganda. Let’s own / reposses the distribution and dont renew the contract to thieves.

  7. Eng CRANIMUS ATUHAMYE

    I preferably wish that there should be centralisation of electricity distribution because look how comes Uganda exports electricity to Kenya but it beats beyond my understanding our electricity tariffs are higher than those of Kenya imagine…
    It was in e same country where we export power that it was easy for the government to convince its electricity distributors to provide nearly free power in this covid19 period buh the government of us found it difficult mazimaaaaaaa
    M777777 and you elites look down into that situation stop keeping on tokkng workkkk

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