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Lack of Electricity Crippling Businesses, says Ugandan Legislator

In Uganda, the shortage of electricity is crippling business, especially in the capital, Kampala. There are power outages, also called load shedding, that some say can last as long as five days in a row.

For hours recently, protesters blocked the highway from Kampala to the main airport, Entebbe. Among them were business people, complaining that the outages have affected their businesses.

Ugandan women chat in a shop lit by a paraffin lamp in the capital Kampala (file photo)
Ugandan women chat in a shop lit by a paraffin lamp in the capital Kampala (file photo)

“The lack of electricity has hit the country hard, especially in the city,” said Sebuliba Mutumba, the member of parliament for Kawempe South.

He said the power supply has been intermittent and the situation is worsening. “That’s why people are resorting to riots. Cottage industries are affected. Lack of electricity has compounded the problems the country is facing, given the poor economy and high inflation.”

The situation is dire, said Mutumba, especially in the city, where some patients in hospitals have died as a result of the power shortage. “Even at parliament we sometimes have to use a [power] generator.”

“We need over 440 megawatts but right now we have about 160 megawatts. The power is simply not enough,” said the legislator, whose constituency straddles the north of the city.

Even private thermal power companies have cut back their production due delayed payment, he said. Mutumba called it a result of improper billing by the companies, which the government then disputes.

He also attributed the lack of electricity to the rise in population and the increase in industrial activities.

Mutumba was pessimistic about the possibility that a short-term solution would be found soon. “Right now we are at the mercy of the power companies,” he said.