Thousands miss out on power extension in Nebbi municipality

todayJuly 26, 2021

By Felix Ogenrwoth

For decades, access to electricity in the rural areas of Nebbi district has been problematic, forcing residents to resort to using kerosene lamps and small solar panels.

Despite the ongoing government rural electrification programme and the several calls made for the power extension to rural population in Nebbi district, authorities in Nebbi Municipality are concerned over the sluggish distribution of electricity in the urban center.

Nebbi Municipality consistS of three Division, 9 Wards and 46 cells covering about 100 square Kilometers. However authorities are also demanding explanations from government as to how several cells have missed out on the rural electrification programme.

‘’Apparently, the power that was supposed to be distributed all over Nebbi Municipality, has been taken to Madi Okollo district. We have some of our cells whose names are very similar to some villages in Madi-Okollo district. The mix up in names is dragging us behind because Madi-Okollo is now benefiting instead of us here. Where is the foul play?’’, says Geoffrey Ngiriker the mayor Nebbi municipality.

West Nile has for years been dependent on thermal power generated by West Nile Rural Electrification Company WENRECo). Residents and regional leaders say the region is plagued by rampant outages and high power tariffs.

‘’We have been waiting for a sustainable electricity power for a long time and our hopes ran high by the construction of the Karuma power dam. Development in Nebbi municipality is not moving well because we do not have reliable power here. Our hope is actually dwindling’’, said Piracel Doreen a resident of Oryang cell Nebbi municipality.

In July 2019 the then state minister of energy Simon D’ujanga said, ‘’Yes there is a ray of hope and we would like to see that the problem of power connection to the national grid is intensified and make sure that every household in this region taps electricity for both domestic and industrial purposes. Power is required for a robust industrial development. We have secured 7-billion shillings which will be used to connect at least four Sub Counties in Nebbi district including the municipality to the national grid. We are very optimistic that load shedding is reduce when we finally have power from Karuma’’, he said during an engagement with journalists recently.

The power distribution in Nebbi Municipality stood at 3 percent in 2016, according to a memorandum written to the then Minister of local government Tom Butime in August 14th 2016.

But a section of politicians have punched holes in government’s commitment to extend reliable to members of poorer households in Nebbi municipality.

The LC3 chairperson Abindu Division Nebbi municipality James Chombe Muchek says the division has close to 17 Cells but less than 10 cells have electricity.

‘’How does government say we shall have power when most of the poles to be planted for instance in my area are being taken to Madi-Okollo district. I sense foul play here. When these people of REA came here for assessments we clearly indicated our interests but later I was surprised most our villages were given to our neighbor’’, he said.

The 2014 Africa Energy Outlook showed that more than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa live without electricity, a figure that has not closed much in the years since its release. Focusing in on Uganda, according to the World Bank, only 1 in 5 households had access to the electric power grid in the same year. When comparing rural and urban homes, the situation is much direr with over 89 percent of rural households not reached by the grid compared to the still inaccessible 34 percent unconnected in urban areas.

Without reliable access to modern power, these homes are left to utilize other more dangerous forms of energy such as kerosene, charcoal and wood burning, whose harmful effects on the environment are well known. Why are these statistics scary? Low electrification rates equal lower productivity and earning capacity.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Meanwhile Hassim Sulaiman, the Nebbi Municipal MP says lack of satisfactory power lowers the quality of life and development. He says, the unequal distribution of power makes people think the leaders are neglecting some of them.

COVER PHOTO: Gov't is carrying out rural electrification programme. But some areas are missing out on the program. Credit. REA.

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