Uganda is on the brink of a significant transformation in its power sector as the Ministry of Energy announces a phased transition from the existing prepaid Yaka meters to the Token Identification System (TID Rollover) by October 2024. This shift is part of broader reforms aimed at fostering competition, diversifying utility providers, and complying with the Electricity (Amendment) Act, 2022.
Energy Minister Ruth Nankabirwa revealed the impending discontinuation of the prepaid Yaka system during a media briefing at the Uganda Media Centre. Users of prepaid electricity meters are required to migrate to the new Token Identification System (TID Rollover) by October 2024. The TID Rollover system allows consumers to switch their electricity payments between different utility providers, promoting flexibility and consumer choice.
Power sector reforms
The move is a crucial component of wider reforms within Uganda’s power sector, signaling a departure from the monopoly previously held by Umeme Uganda Limited. Multiple operators will now offer electricity tokens, in compliance with the Electricity (Amendment) Act, 2022, which aims to encourage competition. These changes align with the impending exit of UMEME from Uganda’s electricity distribution.
Impact on consumers
The new metering system brings about a new era of consumer choice and flexibility, freeing users from a single provider and allowing them to choose from various operators. This shift is expected to drive competition among providers, potentially leading to improved services and competitive pricing. As the October 2024 deadline approaches, consumers are urged to make necessary adjustments for a smooth transition.
Tariff changes and Presidential directive
In addition to the metering system transition, the Electricity Regulatory Authority has announced electricity tariffs for the first quarter of 2024. President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has emphasized the government’s commitment to lowering electricity costs, directing the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development to reduce power costs for manufacturers.
Yaka meter “expiration” explained
The Yaka meters are set to expire in November 2024 due to the Standard Transfer Specification (STS) prepaid meter software reaching its limit. Users need to upgrade their meters before this date to continue receiving electricity. The STS, created in 1993, uses Token Identifiers (TID), and after November 24, 2024, TID values will roll back to zero. Failure to upgrade meters will result in a loss of electricity supply.
Umeme’s contract and Uganda National Electricity Company Limited (UNECL): The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development plans to create UNECL to take over electricity generation, transmission, and distribution following the expiration of Eskom Limited and Umeme Limited’s contracts. UNECL will operate as a public-private partnership (PPP), with the state holding a majority share. This change is part of broader power sector reforms aimed at enhancing performance and providing affordable power.
Uganda’s power sector is undergoing a transformative shift with the impending transition from Yaka meters to the TID Rollover system. These changes, coupled with tariff adjustments and the creation of UNECL, signify a strategic move towards a more competitive and diversified electricity landscape. Consumers, industry players, and stakeholders are advised to stay informed and make the necessary preparations for a seamless transition.