Legislators on the Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources have asked the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development for a comprehensive study justifying the government’s move to merge and streamline electricity agencies.
This demand was made when the committee was meeting officials from the ministry on Wednesday, 02 February 2022 to consider the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2022.
The Bill among others, intends to see the country’s generation and transmission companies merged into one public limited company and the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) streamlined into the ministry.
The MPs, however, were hesitant to support the proposal challenging the ministry’s competency to manage the agencies when they are merged and streamlined.
Hon Dickson Kateshumbwa (NRM, Sheema Municipality) asked whether the ministry has the ability to manage the agencies.
“This is not justifiable because the ministry will be overwhelmed given that it is a mammoth of a duty. It has been noted that ministries are marred with bureaucracies that are never ending and slow down the implementation of so much work,” he said.
Fort Portal Municipality MP, Hon Alex Ruhunda said there are still glaring matters in the electrification drive of the country that would be aggravated by moving REA back to the ministry.
“We still have rural electrification standing at just above 50 per cent; REA has been able to operate semi-autonomously with so much interference from the ministry and yet it is not yet done with its purpose,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary, Eng Irene Batebe, allayed the concerns of the MPs saying the move will help eliminate duplication and redundancies of programmes shared by sister agencies.
“The mere fact that some parishes have electricity poles standing without lines; these are the things we seek to address with streamlining the agencies,” she said.
Batebe said the inefficiencies that existed especially in REA informed the decision to absorb it and make it a department in the ministry to help with better oversight.
She added that a study was conducted into the viability of merging and streamlining the electricity agencies.
“We are however, preparing to undertake a comprehensive assessment on the new direction of the electricity agency merger. The intention is to harmonise all these sub-sectors to operate efficiently,” said the Permanent Secretary.
Eng. Batebe stated that Uganda Electricity Generation Company, Uganda Electricity Transmission Company and Uganda Electricity Distribution Company will be merged into one public limited company. These, she said, will be operating as distinct departments within the company, aiding in supervision of their duties without interfering with each other.