By Assad Mugenyi
Joshua Karamagi is the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL), starting March 1, 2023.
Karamagi, who was recently appointed by the UETCL board, replaces George Rwabajungu, who resigned in August last year. Taremwa Micheal Kananura, has been leading the firm in an acting capacity for the last five months.
A Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter holder, Karamagi will need all his training and experience to steer UETCL in a competitive environment after the Electricity (Amendment) Act, 2022 opened up the transmission segment to private investments.
Last year, Gridworks, a UK development and investment platform, became the first private company to participate in the transmission of electricity in Uganda.
The firm will provide up to $90 million in equity funding for the refurbishment of the Tororo, Nkenda Mbarara and Mirama substations, which will help address the capacity constraints at important spots on the national grid.
Interestingly, the refurbishment of the substations had been identified as priorities by the UETCL in its Grid Development Plan 2018 – 2040.
Speaking at the signing of the agreement with Gridworks, Ruth Nankabirwa, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, said privatizing transmission would increase investment in the electricity grid, which will then unlock suppressed demand, boost industrialization while facilitating stable regional electricity trade.
The Gridlocks model is a pilot project; however, once successful it will be duplicated to spur further investment in electricity transmission.
Besides private sector competition, UETCL has also been grappling with increased vandalism over the last year, registering costly losses in destroyed infrastructure; another area Karamagi will be expected to tackle head on.
Furthermore, plans to create the Uganda National Electricity Company Limited (UNECL) to take over the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity are in advanced stages. This will necessitate the merging of the UETCL, the Uganda Electricity Generation Company (UEGCL) and the Uganda Electricity Distribution Company (UEDCL).
The UNECL will operate under a public private partnership (PPP).
President Yoweri Museveni’s proposal to have large power consumers supplied electricity directly by the generators as a solution to high tariffs – in effect bypassing the distribution network – presents another fascinating challenge for Karamagi. In evacuating power directly to consumers, UETCL will need to put in place various novel strategies.
In its revenue requirements for the multiyear tariff (MYT) for the period of 2023-2025, UETCL intends to spend UGX 1.4 trillion, UGX 1.5t and UGX 1.52t in power purchase costs (single buyer budget) for the financial years 2023, 2024 and 2025 respectively.
As the government agency responsible for grid expansion projects across the country the company also has a capital expenditure budget of UGX 52 billion, UGX 61b and UGX 40b for the financial years 2023, 2024 and 2025 in that order.
Its operations budget over the same period stands at UGX 118b, UGX 125b and UGX 131b for the financial years 2023, 2024 and 2025 respectively.
This budget breakdown is part of UETCL’s tariff application plan to the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA).
Electricity access in Uganda stands at about 57 per cent, with 19 per cent on grid and 38 per cent off-grid. The National Development Plan III (NDP III) says Uganda should have achieved universal electricity access by 2030.
Karamagi has previously served the UEGCL as Chief Financial Officer (CFO). He has also worked at the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and at Makerere University and served on various boards including that of Housing Finance Bank (HFB).
As a CFA charter holder, Karamagi is well equipped with investment basics, assets valuation, portfolio management and wealth planning fundamentals. He also holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School, Herriot-Watt University, is a certified public accountant and holds a B. Com (Honours) degree from Makerere University.
In 2018, Karamagi was recognized by Deloitte and Touché and ACCA Uganda as the best-performing CFO in the public sector.
(Reporting by Assad Mugenyi. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)