Properties worth billions of shillings and lives have over the years been lost in Uganda as a result of illegal or poorly done electrical installations done by unqualified electricians.
As one of the solutions to this problem, the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) launched a campaign to train and grant certification only to qualified electricians, in a bid to save lives and property.
To achieve this goal, the Authority recently established an Installation Permits Committee Coordination Centre, aimed at strengthening the supervision of licensed companies and extend services to consumers.
Besides ensuring that only certified electricians are employed in the sector, this Centre will also be the main interface between the Installations Permit Committee (IPC), the installation wire persons, and ERA as a regulator.
Explaining what this means to the common Ugandan, Engineer Ziria Tibalwa Waako, the Executive Director ERA, said that; “For those who are not familiar with the terminologies, when you want to implement electrical installation within your premises, industry, commercial facility, you are supposed to utilize a ‘Power Kapo’. We ‘baptized’ these people Power Kapo. These are qualified people who have gained practical experience and are well-tested and authorized by the Authority to handle electrical installations at a certain level.”
Waako added that; “We have those who can handle only domestic households of up to five bedrooms, those who are authorized to handle both domestic and three-phase industrial wiring, those who are authorized to handle three-phase industrial only and those who are authorized to work on to the grid. Some are caped at 33KV distribution and others are able to work even on the transmission network. Those are the ones you see as sub-contractors with main contractors implementing various projects across the value chain; generation, transmission and distribution. These are the front-end technicians and engineers who are in charge of installation, and ensuring safety of supply.”
She noted that certified electricians are fundamental for attainment of Uganda’s electrification agenda.
ERA Rolls Out Training Programme For Electricians
It should be noted that Uganda presently has slightly over 2,700 Certified Electricians who have been duly authorized by the ERA to install Electrical wiring on premises, as provided for by Section 88 of the Electricity Act, 1999.
With the growing Electricity Generation Capacity, expected to reach 1854.2 MW next year when the 600 MW Karuma Hydropower Project is commissioned; and the ongoing countrywide Electricity connections under the Electricity Connections Policy launched in November 2018, Uganda requires up to 4,000 Certified Electricians to fully support the Electrification Agenda.
As such, the current shortage of tested and Certified Electricians is indeed a problem for the Electricity Supply Industry.
However, the bigger problem is that a large section of the public is not aware of the obligation to use tested and Certified Electricians to undertake Electrical installations for their premises.
So, in order to deal with these problems, the Electricity Regulatory Authority with funding from the World Bank is undertaking two related critical activities under the #PawaKapo campaign, which was launched by the Minister for Energy and Mineral Development in November 2019.
The campaign is aimed at Training and Certification of persons who have had formal education in Electrical installation (with at least Craft Certificate Part II) but do NOT possess adequate practical experience that would be necessary to get Certification and own a Wiring Permit issued by ERA, for purposes of wiring homes and commercial establishments (Permit Classes D and C, respectively).
The campaign also involves sensitization of Electricity Consumers and the public on the requirement to enlist the services of Certified Electricians while undertaking electrical installations at home, in offices, factories, and other premises.
The implementation of the aforementioned activities under the #PawaKapo campaign supports the Government’s aspiration to increase Access to Electricity to a rate of 60% by the year 2040.
It also presents major opportunities for existing (but UnCertified) and prospective Electricians to register for the Free Training on Electrical Installations.
According to Waako, this training aims at enabling installation electricians to upgrade their skills prior to obtaining Certification by ERA. She notes that “While ERA ordinarily issues Electricity Installation Permits for Classes A, B, C, D, Z, and X, the PawaKapo training targets beneficiaries who are interested in wiring homes and commercial establishments (holders of Permit Class D and C).”
She explains that the training is conducted using demonstration cubicles at select Technical Institutes in Uganda, which are collaborating with ERA on the #PawaKapo campaign.
“These are: Nakawa Vocational Training Institute (Kampala); Uganda Technical College (Lira); Rukungiri Technical Institute (Rukungiri); Uganda Technical College (Bushenyi); Arua Technical Institute (Arua); Uganda Technical College Elgon (Mbale); and Uganda Technical College Kyema (Masindi).”
According to the Authority, a Certified Electrician enjoys numerous benefits, most notable being effortlessly earning the trust of their clients to do Safe and Reliable Electrical installations.
This gives him or her an edge over Kamyufus (illegal installers) whose space is narrowing further with this campaign; and protects the former from punitive action in form of fines or imprisonment, as stipulated by Section 88 of the Electricity Act.
For Electricity Consumers and the public, Waako explains that the training increase the pool of PawaKapos (Electricians) that are available to undertake Legal, Safe and Quality Electrical Installations.
“With the existence of an updated database of all the Certified Electricians across Uganda, ERA can get you connected with the authorized Electricians to ensure the Safety of your Life and Property, which is paramount. Choose Safety. Forget the Kamyufu! Look out for a #PawaKapo within your vicinity,” the Engineer advises.