Uganda news update – UMEME goes on social networks, launches dedicated ‘Incident Room’

Ugandas embattled electricity distributor UMEME, stung by criticism from the public, the business community and parliamentarians, has in recent days moved to start a public counter offensive, aimed to bring accurate information faster into the public domain.
Their call centre, in the past notorious for giving often as many different accounts over a reported outage as suffering consumers made calls, will now be supplemented by UMEMEs presence on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, but most notably through the launch of an incident room which will in the future coordinate information given to local media organizations. This will extend to technical faults as well as the power supply situation and daily updates will be availed to radio and TV stations across the country three times a day, and more should special circumstances necessitate. Senior personnel will be assigned to the new Incident Room to ensure correct information is given, a marked improvement over the past when often overwhelmed junior staff manning the call centre phones lacked accurate information.
In the process the company has also pointed out that they could only distribute what they in turn received from the producers of electricity, a concealed reference that culpability for the present shortfall in electricity production rested with others, not themselves. Here it is noteworthy that government and parliament are locked in arguments over the release of funds to pay contractually agreed subsidies to independent thermal power producers, which led to a standoff and then a sharp reduction of electricity fed into the national grid when several companies literally ran out of fund to pay for their fuel. At the same time was government criticized over directives to shut down diesel propelled plants, keeping only the cheaper heavy fuel oil plants in operation. The business community in particular decried this development saying government should have waited, inspite of the relatively higher cost, until the new Bujagali hydro electric plant comes on line before starting to phase out diesel propelled thermal plants, pointing out the crippling effect of the effect of the load shedding for manufacturing and other businesses.
Electricity rationing presently is in effect in Tanzania and Kenya too where drought has reduced the level of water in the reservoirs of the main hydro electric plants, leaving in particular the main city hotels and beach resorts in a lurch making the use of in house generators necessary at a huge expense affecting bottom lines due to the escalating cost of diesel and the lack of government tax and duty breaks.
Meanwhile, as said before, is UMEME now on Facebook, bravely enduring the endless flood of invectives posted by irate consumers but nevertheless taking the step to show flag and be able to provide timely updates on key social media networks. Follow them on Twitter via @UmemeLtd or visit them on Facebook via