Umeme off twitter after massive power blackout

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Uganda power distributor Umeme Limited has not been on twitter since the start of the week.

On Tuesday morning, Martha Leah Nangalama, a Ugandan social media blogger who lives in Canada raised the alarm, asking if Umeme had just deleted their twitter account.

In a statement, the regulator said its handle @umemeltd was temporarily “unavailable due to the ignoring procedural authentication exercise by Twitter Inc”.

It however, said clients could reach out on Facebook, what Sapp, email and toll free lines until the authentication exercise is done.

Yet the toll free lines were not functioning when we contacted them on Wednesday, two days after their twitter handle had been removed.

Annoying blackouts

For example, the January 7, 2019 incident was the second time in less a month that the country is being left in a massive blackout.

In December last year, most parts of the country were plunged into darkness with Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited saying it was an internal problem from one of the electricity generation facilities.

Umeme said in a tweet on Tuesday that their team was working with electricity supplier Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) to establish the cause of the blackout that affected most parts of the country.

For some parts of Kampala, it was only a lost evening, others it was a whole day and night while the unlucky ones went as long as three days without power.

Umeme blamed the blackout on heavy rains that destroyed electric poles in several places.

Simon Kasyate, the Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL)’s corporate affairs manager, told Daily Monitor that because of the interconnection with the Kenyan grid, when a problem happens in Kenya, Uganda is also affected.

Electricity supply cost

While Umeme recently boasted that they are innovating to reduce operation costs, President Museveni in his New Year’s message said the leading power distributor in the country accounts for 34% of the power distribution cost, writes The Independent Magazine.

Museveni said Umeme is a key “distorter” in the energy supply chain, stifling government attempts to bring down the cost of power to the end user.

The president said generation, transmission and distribution cost account for only 8% and 11% of electricity supply cost in Ethiopia and Kenya.

That means Umeme’s distribution cost quadruples and triples Ethiopia and Kenya transmission and distribution costs respectively, noted Independent.

This contradicts Umeme’s statement earlier that it has been reducing the cost of serving a customer each year.

Umeme had promised regulator, Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) that the cost will continue to decline.

UMEME Managing Director Selestino Babung last month stated that they serving Ugandans cheaper than regional peers.

He argued that the power loss reduction is valued at sh175 billion.

But they did not answer questions on the subject in regard to Museveni’s assertion.

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