FACTORS INFLUENCING EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION OF RURAL ELECTRIFICATION PROGRAM IN UGANDA: A CASE OF WEST NILE REGION

Joseph Onzia, Willy Muturi

Abstract


The Electricity Act, 1999 established the legal framework for achieving Government of Uganda’s objectives for rural electrification. The primary objective of the Rural Electrification strategy is to reduce inequalities in access to electricity. The Rural Electrification Program is important to Uganda because it will stimulate balanced national development between the rural and urban areas. The purpose of this study was to investigate factors influencing effective implementation of rural electrification program in Uganda: a case study of West Nile Region. The objectives of the study were to assess the effect of consumer electrification costs, program funding, stakeholder support and staff capability on effective implementation of rural electrification program. The study adopted a descriptive survey research design. The target population was 355365 respondents. Stratified sampling was used for electricity consumers with stratum sizes of 98:1:1 for households, health centers and schools respectively. Simple random sampling was then used to select the respondents. Data was collected using questionnaires for the electricity consumers and interviews for WENRECO managers. Pilot study was conducted at Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited (UEDCL) to test the validity and reliability of the instruments. Data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The study established that a unit increase in cost of electricity will lead to a 0.242 increase in the implementation of rural electrification program; a unit increase in stakeholder participation will lead to a 0.432 increase in the implementation of rural electrification program; a unit increase in the staff capability will lead to a 0.091 increase in the implementation of rural electrification program while a unit increase in the program funding will lead to a 0.043 increase in the implementation of rural electrification program. The study concluded that the cost of house wiring materials, high connection fee and tariff affects effective implementation of rural electrification program in West Nile region. Electricity access was at about 1.92% and generation deficit is expected to increase to 5.2MW even when the planned 4.4MW mini hydro on river Nyagak is commissioned by 2018. The stakeholders were not fully involved in the implementation of rural electrification program in West Nile Region though majority of them support the electrification program. The relevant projects in generation, transmission and distribution network were not effectively coordinated so as to mitigate losses to Distribution Company. Most of the electricity users had ever been disconnected from power because of failing to pay on time which affected the funding of rural electricity program though the organization ensured that there was frequent line maintenance. The consumers were confident that the staffs were capable, they issued network maintenance notices in advance and faults along the power lines were cleared within shortest time possible. This shows that the organization has very good staff development plans that support its strategy. The study recommended subsidizing of consumer connections cost, domestic house wiring material cost and the unit cost of energy.  Aggregate distribution losses should be reduced by the service provider to acceptable levels. Program stakeholders should be fully involved and sufficient funds should be allocated and timely disbursed which requires identification of more program funders. The organizations should continuously train staff so that new skills acquired. This study will therefore benefit policy makers and stakeholders participating in implementation of rural electrification program in Uganda, rural electricity consumers and students wishing to undertake research in implementation of effective and sustainable rural electrification program.


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