Charles Chapman,
MD, Umeme
 
Kampala, Uganda --- (METERING.COM) --- August 12, 2009 - Uganda power distributor Umeme is re-launching its fraud hotline for reporting power theft and introducing other initiatives in a bid to reduce losses.

Power losses currently stand at between 35 to 40 percent, of which 16 percent are technical losses and the remainder non-technical losses, the latter mainly from theft and meter tampering.

“The bottom line is to stop power theft because everyone is paying for that,” Umeme managing director, Charles Chapman, was quoted as saying.

The fraud hotline will be accompanied by a sensitization campaign.

Other steps being taken include the decentralizing of the loss reduction activities with the appointment of 25 area managers, while recently the company completed the installation of a new billing system.

Umeme is also in the process of receiving bids from various companies to install a prepayment system.

“Whereas it was not part of the concession agreement, we are committed to bringing in the prepaid system and we have already received interests and bids from those interested and competent to supply,” added Chapman.

The losses have come under much debate recently, with some parliamentarians calling for Umeme’s 20-year concession, under which the company is wholly owned by the U.K. Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) since 2005, to be reviewed.

Last month Umeme was awarded a US$25 million loan from the IFC towards its $50 million investment program for 2009 and 2010 aimed at improving quality of service and connecting up to 20,000 new customers annually.

Umeme supplies power to over 300,000 customers mainly located in the semi-urban strip from Entebbe through Kampala to Jinja.