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Cooperative Society Struggles to Distribute Power to Residents

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Moses Tusiime, the Rural Electrification Agency Rwenzori region manager, says power will be extended to other parts of the district very soon.

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Bundibugyo Energy and Cooperative Society is struggling to distribute electricity to communities in the district. In 2011, Bundibugyo Energy and Cooperative Society won a concession from government to manage the new power line in the district. 

The concession mandated Bundibugyo Energy and Cooperative Society to distribute power, maintain the power lines and manage revenue from the consumers. The cooperative adopted the prepaid meter system, which allows consumers to buy power using a credit card for a given amount of money. 

Electricity under this scheme is subsidized as domestic consumers pay 375 Shillings per unit while those on three-phase are charged 400 Shillings per unit. The proceeds from the electricity are used to pay salary for the staff and replace old electricity poles. 

The cooperative model was introduced by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) to enable farmers, small industries, businesses and other rural dwellers to have access to electricity at a reasonable cost. However, six years down the road, the cooperative is still struggling to ensure that all households in the district have access to electricity. 

The cooperative society had planned to connect more than 2500 households to the national grind by 2015, but only 1200 are connected. Bernard Mwesige, the chairperson Bundibugyo Energy and Cooperative Society, attributes the delay to connect residents to lack of connection materials. 

He explains that the cooperative requires prepaid meters, meter boxes and low voltage cables but lacks funds. According to Mwesige, they have halted plans to connect 500 households in the neighboring Ntoroko district due to lack of materials. He says proceeds from the power consumers are inadequate to purchase the materials.  

The delay to extend power has angered some residents who have accused the society of not fulfilling its promise. Ronald Muhenda, a trader in Busaru trading center, says that he has waited for power connection to boost his timber business in vain. He adds that traders and proprietors of small scale industries in the area are operating in losses because rely on generators.

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However Moses Tusiime, the Rural Electrification Agency Rwenzori region manager, says power will be extended to other parts of the district very soon. He explains that REA is yet to release funds to the cooperative society to purchase connection materials which include prepaid meters, meter boxes and low voltage cable wires.

Another Energy Cooperative distributing power in Uganda is Pader - Abim Community Multi-purpose Electricity Cooperative Society (PACMECS). In Africa, the energy cooperative model has been adopted and successful in Tanzania, Ghana and Burkina Faso.

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