ERA - Electricity Regulatory Authority

Investment in Renewable Energy

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Introduction

The Electricity Regulatory Authority set up a legal and regulatory framework that has created an enabling and conducive environment that supports private investment based on an established legal, policy and regulatory framework.

Liberalisation of the Electricity Industry

In November 1999, the Electricity Act, 1999, Chapter 145 was enacted to provide for among others; the establishment of the Electricity Regulatory Authority and its functions, powers and administration. The Act also provided for the liberalization and introduction of competition in the electricity sector.

The liberalization of the sector led to the unbundling of the Uganda Electricity Board (UEB) which was a vertically integrated public utility. UEB a monopoly playing all the functions of generating, transmiting, distributing and selling of electricity.

The unbundling of UEB led to the creation of three successor companies namely: Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL), Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) and Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited (UEDCL).

The enactment of the 1999 Electricity Act, Cap 145 Lwas of Uganda opened the Electricity Sector to private investment in the generation and distribution segments.

Legal Framework

The Electricity Act, 1999, Cap 145, Laws of Uganda  was enacted to govern the activities of the Electricity Supply Industry. The Act provides for the establishment of an Independent Regulator with the mandate to regulate the generation, transmission, distribution, sale, export, import and distribution of electrical energy in Uganda.

The enforcement of the Electricity Act 1999, is supplemented by Statutory Instruments and Guidelines approved by ERA. Other organs such as the Electricity Disputes Tribunal, the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) and Board (REB) were established under the Act to provide guidelines for resolution of sector disputes, and promote, support and provide for rural electrification programs respectively.

The legal and regulatory framework for the Uganda energy sector is complimented by a policy framework that includes the energy policy, which was completed in 2002 and the renewable energy policy which was completed in 2007.

Appeals system

Section 93 of the Electricity Act, Chapter 145, Laws of Uganda provides for the establishment of an Electricity Disputes Tribunal. By statute, the jurisdiction and primary objective of the Electricity Disputes Tribunal is to hear and determine all matters referred to it relating to the electricity sector. This includes electricity disputes between consumers and licensees charged with generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in Uganda and disputes between electricity sector players in exercising her functions; Electricity Disputes Tribunal has powers of the High Court of Uganda.

The detailed complaints and dispute resolution procedure is provided for under regulation 21 of the Electricity Primary Grid Code.

One of the functions of the Electricity Regulatory Authority is to issue licensees for the generation, transmission, distribution or sale of electricity and licenses for the ownership or operation of transmission system.

Licensing

Interested power project developers can invest in Uganda’s electricity sector through a solicited or unsolicited licensing process.

  1. Solicited Licensing Process

    The Electricity Regulatory Authority, through a fair, open and competitive process in accordance with procedures prescribed under the Electricity Act and supporting regulations, invites applications for licenses to generate electricity.
     
  2. Unsolicited Licensing Process

    Licensing of Independent Power Producers (IPPs), under the unsolicited route goes through a two tier process which includes:-
    • The feasibility permit stage; and,
    • The licensing stage (construction and operation).
    • The feasibility permit stage is the first stage in the unsolicited licensing process. Intending power project developers require a permit from ERA to undertake feasibility studies and any other activities that require other relevant consents and approvals, often from the environmental regulator, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and water regulator, the Directorate of Water Resources Management (DWRM).

      Once granted a feasibility study permit by the Authority, the permit is valid for a period of 18 months. This feasibility study permit allows the intending developer exclusive rights over a particular energy generation resource in a given area.

Construction and operation

Once the intending developer has concluded the feasibility studies and acquired the relevant and necessary consents or approvals,  they may apply to ERA for a Generation and Sale of Electricity License. The license is valid not more than 40 years although the typical license validity period is 23 years. The validity period includes the time it takes to construct the power generation project.

It is upon the award of a Generation and Sale of Electricity License that an intending developer is legally permitted to undertake project development.

Key Institutions in the Licensing Framework

There are a number of institutions whose authorisation a developer of a renewable power project in Uganda requires in the licensing process.The key institutions are highlighted hereunder and a summary of their contacts is provided in the table.

 

 

A.   The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development

The overall responsibility for the Renewable Energy Policy lies with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) The mandate of MEMD is to establish, promote the development, strategically manage and safeguard the rational and sustainable exploitation and utilization of energy and mineral resources for social and economic development in Uganda.

B.   Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA)

The Electricity Regulatory Authority is a body corporate established by the Electricity Act, 1999, Cap. 145, to regulate the generation, transmission, distribution, sale, export and import of electricity in Uganda. ERA is mandated to issue licenses to the participants in the Electricity Sector Industry.

C.   Electricity Disputes Tribunal (EDT)

Part XIII of the 1999 Electricity, provides for the Electricity Disputes Tribunal. By statute, the Electricity Disputes Tribunal has its jurisdiction and primary objective to hear and determine all matters referred to it relating to the electricity sector. This includes electricity disputes between consumers and the public bodies charged with generation, transmission and distribution of electricity in Uganda and in exercising such functions it has powers of the High Court of Uganda. Decisions of Electricity Regulatory Authority are appealable to the EDT.

D. Rural Electrification Agency (REA)

In accordance with Section 62 of the Electricity Act, the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) was established as a semi- autonomous Agency by the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development through Statutory Instrument 2001 no. 75, to operationalize Government's rural electrification function under a public-private partnership. REA is the Secretariat of the Rural Electrification Board (REB) which manages the Rural Electrification Fund (REF). The Rural Electrification Board (REB), as the governing body of REA, provides subsidies to support rural electrification projects.

 

E.   Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL)

The Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) is the System Operator and owns transmission lines above 33kV. UETCL is the bulk supplier and single buyer of power for the national grid in Uganda. It is the purchaser of all generated power in the country that is fed into the national grid. Generators of electricity are expected to sign a Standardized Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with UETCL.

F.   Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS)

The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) is a statutory body, under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Co-operatives that was established by the UNBS Act Cap 327 to formulate and promote the use of national standards and to develop quality control and quality assurance systems that will enhance consumer protection, public health and safety, industrial and commercial development and international trade, among others. In this context, UNBS is responsible for developing and monitoring standards for renewable energy technologies in addition to bio fuels technology.

 

G.   National Environment Management Authority (NEMA)

National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) is a semi-autonomous institution established in May 1995 under the National Environment Act Cap. 153 as the principal agency in Uganda charged with the responsibility of coordinating, monitoring, regulating and supervising environmental management in Uganda. In this context, NEMA is responsible for regulating the impact of renewable energy investments on the environment. NEMA awards certificates of environmental clearance, following review and approval of Environmental Audits, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Reports and Resettlement Action Plans (RAP).

H.   Directorate of Water Resources Management (DWRM)

The Directorate of Water Resources Management under the Ministry of Water and Environment is responsible for managing the water resources of Uganda in an integrated and sustainable manner in order to secure and provide water of adequate quantity and quality for all social and economic needs for the present and the future. It is the body that issues Surface Water Abstraction and Construction Permits to Project Developers developing hydropower projects. The same body is also responsible for issuing Water Discharge permits and, underground water abstraction permits.

I.   Uganda Investment Authority(UIA)

The Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) is a semi-autonomous government agency operating in partnership with the private sector and Government of Uganda to drive national economic growth and development. The Authority was set up by an Act of Parliament with the aim of promoting and facilitating private sector investment in Uganda. Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) has been transformed into a One Stop Centre offering free services where investors can register their businesses and get all relevant licenses related to their business under one roof.

Summary of Contacts

Institution Contact Details
Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development Contact: Permanent Secretary
Tel: +256 414-323355 / 234733
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.energyand mineral.go.ug
Electricity Regulatory Authority Contact: Chief Executive Officer
P.O Box 10332, Kampala
Plot 15, ERA House, Shimoni Road, Nakasero
Tel: + 414-341852/0757341646
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.era.or.ug
Directorate of Water Resources Management

Ministry of Water & Environment
P.O. Box 20026
Kampala – Uganda
Contact: The Director
Phone: +256-414-505942
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.mwe.go.ug

Electricity Disputes Tribunal Contact: Chairman
4th  Floor Amber House
Kampala, Uganda
National Environment Management Authority

Contact: Executive Director
NEMA House
Plot 17/19/21 Jinja Road, Kampala , Uganda
Tel: 256-414-251064; 256-414-251065; 256-414-251068
FAX: 256-414-257521
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.nemaug.org

Rural Electrification Agency

Contact: Executive Director
Plot 10 Windsor Loop, Kololo, 2nd Floor- House of Hope
P.O Box 7317, Kampala , Uganda
Tel: +256-312-318100
Fax: +256-414-346013
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.rea.or.ug

Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited

Contact: The Chief Executive Officer/ Managing Director
Plot No.10, Hannington Rd.
P.O.Box 7625
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.uetcl.com

Uganda Investment Authority

Contact: Executive Director
The Investment Centre, Plot 22B Lumumba Avenue
TWED Plaza
P.O. Box 7418 Kampala, Uganda
Tel:    +256-414-301000
E-mail:   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Website: www.ugandainvest.go.ug

Uganda National Bureau of Standards Contact: Executive Director
Plot M217 Nakawa Industrial Area
P.O.Box 6329 Kampala
Tel.: +256-414-505995 +256-414-222369, 0800133133 TOLL FREE
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website: www.unbs.go.ug

 

Application for a Permit to Undertake Feasibility Studies

To undertake any feasibility studies and other activities leading to the development of a power project, a developer has to apply for a permit. Application for a permit is done through submission of a completed Notice of Intended Application (NIA) – the template is available here;

Timelines for Processing a Notice of Intended Application

A Notice of Intended Application is processed with in three (03) months from the date of receipt of the application. This encompasses the following:-

  • Document deficiency assessment and preparation for publication of the NIA in the National Gazette and a Newspaper of wide circulation. This takes a maximum of Two (02) weeks.
  • Actual publication of the Notice of Intended Application in the National Gazette and a Newspaper of wide circulation for a statutory period of thirty (30) days in order to invite comments from directly affected parties and public agencies;
  • The Authority considers the NIA taking into consideration any representations and or rejections raised in respect of the publication of the NIA.

Requirements of Notice of Intended Application
The NIA form must be accompanied by the following documents:-

Administrative Information

  1. Three hard copies and one soft copy of the application, filled-in and duly signed (on the prescribed NIA form together with all the supporting documentation.
  2. A Letter from the developer's main Bank with details of relationship;
  3. Proof of payment of the application fee [USD 3,000] (License Fees Regulation);
  4. Feasibility study implementation time plan (using Gantt chart format provided. [Gantt chart formats: Hydro; Bagasse; Biomass]);
  5. Declaration of intent between project partners to cooperate during the feasibility stage (using the Declaration Intent letter format);
  6. Documentary evidence of contacts/consultations with local authorities
  7. Financial Model with data of the Applicant and partners and for the project (using the Financial model Template)

Technical Information

  1. Capability statement of Applicant/s to undertake the proposed project;
  2. Curriculum Vitae (CVs) of key team members (using the CV format template provided);
  3. Terms of Reference of the key team members;
  4. Project references of Applicant/s in the project reference format provided;
  5. Prefeasibility study including environmental and social scoping report (See prefeasibility study report guide and environmental and social impact assessment guide);
  6. Map(s) of project area (1:50,000);
  7. Map with access roads;
  8. Tentative project layout map/plan;

Legal Requirements for Ltd Companies

For Private Sector Applicants, the developer requires the following:

  1. Certified copies of Certificates of Incorporation or Certificate of Registration for foreign companies;
  2. Certified copies of the applicant’s Memorandum and Articles of Association;
  3. Certified copy of Form No. 7 (particulars of Directors and Secretary of the Company);
  4. Certified copy of the Certificate of Incorporation of the applicant’s technical partner;
  5. Certified copies of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the financial partner/sponsor;
  6. Certified copies of registered documents with Registrar of companies at submission;
  7. Memorandum of Understanding between the applicant and the technical partner(s);
  8. Company structure and ownership;
  9. Certified Audited Financial Statements of the applicant and all partners for the last three years;

Legal requirement for NGOS and CBOS:

  1. Certified copies of the Certificates of Registration;
  2. Certified copy of the Constitution;
  3. Certified copy of the partners’ Memorandum of Understanding / Declaration of Intent to cooperate;
  4. Certified copy of the Certificate of Incorporation of the applicant’s technical partner;
  5. Certified copies of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the financial partner/sponsor;

Award of Permit
The decision of the Authority on the permit application is communicated within 48 hours from the date of the Authority meeting. Where an award of the permit is granted, it is subjected to the following requirements which have to be fulfilled within 14 days from the date of notification:-

  1. Posting of Performance Bond; and,
  2. Submission of a revised feasibility study implementation time plan.

Obligations of a feasibility Permit Holder

Upon issuance of a permit to an intending developer, the developer shall conduct studies and provide ERA with evidence of progress using the provided template (Permit quarterly progress report template).  A template is provided for each technology as listed below:-

  1. Permit quarterly progress report template – small hydro;
  2. Permit quarterly progress report template – biomass;
  3. Permit quarterly progress report template – bagasse;

Feasibility study templates

In preparing the feasibility study reports, developers are expected to use the standard templates listed below:-

  1. Feasibility study template – small hydropower;
  2. Feasibility study template – biomass;
  3. Feasibility study template – bagasse;
  4. Environmental and Social Impact Assessment template;
  5. Resettlement Action Plan template;
  6. Stakeholder Engagement Plan;
  7. Business plan template;
  8. Financing Model;
  9. Standardized PPA for Hydro;
  10. Standardized PPA for Bagasse; and,
  11. Standardized PPA for Biomass.

Licensing for Construction and Operation

An Intending Developer is expected to submit a qualifying application for a Generation and Sale of Electricity License after concluding a full feasibility study and activities related to the development of the proposed power project.

Application for a License to generate and sale electricity

To undertake the development and implementation of a power project, the Intending Developer applies to ERA for a license to generate and sale electricity. This application is made through submission of a qualifying license application that meets all the requirements.

Application processing timelines

Processing a license application to develop a power project takes a prescribed 180 days from the date of receipt of the application. The application goes through the following processes.

  1. Document deficiency assessment and notification of completeness. This is done within [30 days] from the date of receipt.
  2. Any required clarifications to the developer are done within  [30 days];
  3. A site inspection [3 days];
  4. A public  notice of license application is run in the local newspaper of wide circulation and Uganda gazette for a period of 30 days [the notice is run within 45 days  from the date of receipt of the license application];
  5. A Public Hearing is held in the project affected community within 30 days from the end of the public notice period; and,
  6. Consideration  by the Authority for a decision;

Requirements of license application

The completed license application accompanied by the following document:-

  1. Three hard copies and one soft copy of the license application, filled-in and duly signed forms together with all the supporting documentation using the license application form;
  2. Letter from your main bank with details of relationship;
  3. Letters from all mentioned financing references attached;
  4. Proof of payment of the license application fee (USD 3,500 exclusive of VAT),  see schedule for fees;
  5. Project time plan (using Gantt chart format provided, for hydro/biomass/ bagasse);
  6. Declaration of Intent between project partners to cooperate during the project implementation phase;
  7. Documentary evidence of contacts/consultations with local authorities
  8. Letter from insurance company that construction insurance has been or will be provided;
  9. Letter on assurance that correct information has been provided in the application;
  10. Letter with declaration that the Applicant and its partners have not been involved in any irregularities (e.g. bankruptcy, fraud, corruption or grave professional misconduct); and,
  11. Financial Model with data for applicant and partners and for project (using Financial Model Template).

Technical Information

  1. Capability statement of lead applicant and partners;
  2. Curriculum Vitae (CVs) of key team members in the CV format provided;
  3. Terms of Reference for key team members
  4. Project references of lead applicant and partners in the reference format provided;
  5. Feasibility Study Report using the format provided | Small HydropowerBiomass | Bagasses;
  6. Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Study Report using the format provided;
  7. Resettlement Action Plan using the format provided;
  8. Stakeholder Engagement Plan using the format provided [insert link];
  9. National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) Environmental Approval;
  10. Water Abstraction Permit issued by the Directorate of Water Resources Management (DWRM) for hydro power project;
  11. Water Construction Permit issued by DWRM for hydro power project;
  12. Permit to undertake an activity on a river bank which is issue by NEMA where applicable;  
  13. Business Plan using the format provided;
  14. Power Purchase Agreement initialed by UETCL and applicant using the standardized PPA | Standardized PPA for Hydro;
  15. Agreements with fuel suppliers (where applicable);
  16. Agreements with landowners;
  17. Map(s) of project area (1:50,000); and,
  18. Project layout map/plan with access roads.

Legal Information for Applicants and All Partners

For Private Sector Applicants:

  1. Certified copies of Certificates of Incorporation or Certificate of Registration for foreign companies;
  2. Certified copies of the applicant’s Memorandum and Articles of Association;
  3. Certified copy of Form No. 7 (particulars of Directors and Secretary of the Company);
  4. Certified copy of the Certificate of Incorporation of the applicant’s technical partner;
  5. Certified copies of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the financial partner/sponsor;
  6. Certified copies of registered documents with Registrar of companies at submission;
  7. Memorandum of Understanding between the applicant and the project sponsor;
  8. Memorandum of Understanding between the applicant and the technical partner(s);
  9. Company structure and ownership;
  10. Certified Audited Financial Statements of the applicant and all partners for the last three years.

FOR NGOs AND CBOs:

  1. Certified copies of the Certificates of Registration;
  2. Certified copy of the Constitution;
  3. Certified copy of the partners’ Memorandum of Understanding/Declaration of Intent to cooperate;
  4. Certified copy of the Certificate of Incorporation of the applicant’s technical partner;
  5. Certified copies of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the financial partner/sponsor;

Award of License

The decision of the Authority on the license application is communicated within 48hours from the date of the Authority meeting. Where an award of the license is granted, it is subjected to the following requirements which have to be fulfilled within 30 days from the date of issuance of the License instrument:-

  1. Posting of two Performance Bonds. The first bond equivalent to USD 5000 per MW is for securing financial close and start of construction as per the scheduled start of construction date. The second bond equivalent to USD 2,500 per MW for secureing  the Commercial Operations Date (COD) as per the scheduled COD.
  2. Submission of a revised feasibility study implementation time plan;

Obligations of Licensed Company

Upon issuance of a license to an intending developer, the developer has to implement the project and provide ERA with evidence of progress using the template provided (Licensed project quarterly progress report template).  A template is provided for each technology as provided below:-

  1. Licensed project quarterly progress report template – small hydro | Construction | Operation;
  2. Licensed project quarterly progress report template – biomass | Construction | Operation; and'
  3. Licensed project quarterly progress report template – bagasse | Construction | Operation;

Policies

Energy Policy 2002

The Energy policy for Uganda was developed in 2002 to sustain the economic growth the country had achieved in the last decade and to ensure widespread access to affordable modern energy. The main policy goal is: ‘to meet the energy needs of Uganda’s population for social and economic development in an environmentally sustainable manner.

The policy is supported by other sub polices such as the Renewable Energy policy, 2007 (REP) for the renewable sector and the National Oil and Gas Policy, 2008 (NOGP) for the petroleum sector.

In the Energy Policy 2002, the government of Uganda places specific emphasis on the electricity supply industry, firstly; by seeking to make the power sub-sector financially viable and able to perform without subsidies from the government budget. This was achieved in 2012 as presented under 5.4 (cost reflective tariffs.)

Government also sought to improve the electricity sector’s efficiency by improving commercial performance. The focus was to achieve this objective by increasing the generation capacity of electricity.

The final power sector focused objective in the energy policy seeks to meet the growing demand for electricity at national and regional level and increase area coverage. In as much as electricity coverage has had some improvement since the time the policy was passed, Uganda’s demand for power is estimated to grow at 10% per annum and therefore there is still significant need for investment in the electricity supply industry.

Renewable Energy Feed in Tariff (REFiT)

The Ugandan REFiT is designed to provide price certainty to renewable energy generators. The policy covers a number of technologies and is attractive because it is based on the levelized cost of each technology and not the avoided cost. The priority renewable energy technologies for REFIT in Phase 2 include; hydro, bagasse, landfill gas, biogas, wind, biomass/ municipal solid waste (MSW);

The second phase of the REFIT marks an improvement over the first phase in that:-

  1. It widens the scope of the technologies covered;
  2. It provides for capacity limits for each renewable energy technology; and,
  3. It addresses a number of risks that were not fully covered under Phase 1 of Renewable Energy Feed-in-Tariff (REFIT).

Risks covered under the REFIT include the following

  1. Automatic grid interconnection and pricing flexibility;
  2. Off take risks – the REFIT policy mitigates the off-take risk. The renewable energy generator signs a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL);
  3. Price and currency risks – there are no price risk and currency risk to the renewable energy generator as these are taken by the System Operator in the long-term PPA;
  4. Inflationary risks – it provides escalation factors for inflation;
  5. The feed-in tariffs are not adjusted downwards when a renewable energy generator qualifies for Certified Emission Reduction (CERs) or CDM revenues. This provides additional incentives to project sponsors;
  6. Reduced administrative costs – Standardized Power Purchase Agreements have been developed through a consultative process with Lenders, Developers, and the Electricity stakeholders. Investors in renewable energy no longer have to go through protracted negotiations.

Qualifying renewable energy generators

Qualifying renewable energy generators under the Uganda REFIT Phase 2 guidelines are defined as:

  1. Priority technologies as set out in Appendix 1 of the Uganda REFIT Phase 2, revised in July 2013. Additional technologies can be added in line with the REFIT review process;
  2. Projects greater than 0.5 MW installed capacity, in line with the Electricity Act (1999); Cap 145 Laws of Uganda.
  3. Projects of up to 20 MW installed capacity, in line with the Electricity Act (1999). Projects with an installed capacity greater than 20 MW are required to negotiate a tariff and Power Purchase Agreement  with the System Operator, on a case by case basis;
  4. Plant including additional capacity resulting from project modernization, repowering and expansion of existing sites, but excluding existing generation capacity. Additional generating capacity must be ring-fenced;
  5. Projects connected to the National Grid. Off-grid projects may be included in future developments of the REFIT, although this would require close consultation and collaboration with the Rural Electrification Agency to develop the technical and operational modalities. In particular, this will require the establishment of a mechanism for the monitoring and sale of power to the System Operator as the Single Buyer; and,
  6. Being located within the territory of the Republic of Uganda.

Table 1: REFiT Tariffs and Maximum Technology Capacity limits (2013-2016), O&M %age, capacity limits and payment period

Technology Tariff (US$)/kWh O&M %age Cummulative Capacity Limits (MW) Payment Period (Years)
2013 2014 2015 2016
Hydro (9 ><= 20 MW) 0.085 7.61% 30 90 135 180 20
Hydro (1 ><= 9 MW) Linear tariff1 7.24% 30 75 105 135 20
Hydro (500kW ><= 1 MW) 0.115 7.08% 1 2 2.5 5.5 20
Bagasse 0.095 22.65% 30 70 95 120 20
Biomass (MSW) 0.103 16.23% 5 15 25 45 20
Biogas 0.115 19.23% 5 15 25 45 20
Landfill gas 0.089 19.71% 0 10 20 40 20
Geothermal 0.077 4.29% 10 30 50 75 20
Wind 0.124 6.34% 25 25 100 150 20

Global Energy Transfer for Feed-in-Tariff (GET FiT)

Working with the Government of Uganda and KfW, ERA developed the Global Energy Transfer for Feed-in-Tariff (GET FiT) Program in 2012 in order to increase Uganda’s energy production to mitigate possible power supply shortages before the large hydro plants get online. 

The main purpose of the GET FiT Program is to fast-track development of renewable energy generation projects of 1 MW – 20 MW promoted by private developers with a total installed capacity of about 170 MW/ 830 GWh per annum.  The Premium Payments constitute a result-based incentive grant designed to enhance the financial viability of the selected projects and are payable as a top-up premium of US cents 0.5-2.0 per kilowatt hour to the project developers in addition to the relevant REFiT tariffs determined by ERA.

To-date, GET FiT has approved 17 projects with a combined generation of 128 MW of Small Hydro, Biomass, Solar photovoltaic and Bagasse generation projects which will be commissioned within 2 to 3 years from the start of construction, adding to Uganda’s energy security.  Since its launch in March 2013, the GET FiT Uganda program has created a unique momentum for the development of small scale, private renewable energy projects in Uganda.  Uganda has become a front-runner for the swift implementation of small-scale Renewable Energy projects and the attraction of private finance into the domestic energy sector in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Overall, GET FiT has attracted more than US$ 450 million of private investment into Uganda.  The Climate Scope 2014 Survey of countries’ ability to attract investment for clean energy companies and projects by Bloomberg ranked Uganda 10th out of the 55 countries from Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean.  In Africa, Uganda emerged third due to its Investment Climate for clean energy investments partly facilitated by the huge interest ignited by the GET FiT program.

Following the success of the initial renewable energy technologies under this mechanism, coupled with the reduction of solar PV prices globally, and the relatively short lead-time to commissioning, the European Union (EU) offered Uganda a Euro 20 million grant from the Special EU Sustainable Energy for All Investment fund for the solar facility.  ERA has since procured 20 MW of grid-connected solar photovoltaic that is expected to come online by the end of 2015.

Additional support has been provided by the World Bank through a Partial Risk Guarantee (PRG) facility for small-scale Renewable Energy projects in Uganda.  The Bank has committed US$ 160 million for this facility which will focus on facilitating the provision of short-term liquidity support to the benefit of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) obligations of the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited.

Cost reflective tariffs

In an effort to return the ESI onto a sustainable path, ERA with support from various stakeholders increased the end-user tariffs by 46%, effective 15th January 2012. 

This was against the backdrop of an industry plagued by increasing fuel prices, a depreciating shilling against major currencies, load-shedding and heavy dependence on expensive thermal generation that necessitated Government subsidies, which accounted for over 50% of the end-user tariff by the end of the Financial Year 2011. 

ERA took measures to prescribe a cost-reflective tariff that would relieve Government of the obligation to provide subsidies on electricity and ultimately improve the investment climate.  One of the measures was the implementation of the Quarterly Tariff Methodology, which allows for adjustment of the tariff for changes in macro-economic factors, namely: inflation, exchange rate and the international price of fuel. The adjustment is done on a quarterly basis.  As a result, the tariffs have been maintained at sustainable levels.

ERA in setting the end-user tariffs ensures that revenues allowed through the tariffs cover all reasonable costs and deliver a reasonable rate of return on investments.

Remarkably, the measures undertaken by ERA have resulted into electricity end-user tariffs that recover 93% of the production costs.  The 7% component of the current end-user tariffs is covered by the Government of Uganda to buttress the 100 MW standby thermal generation as a deliberate strategy of ERA to ensure effective planning for the electricity industry.

Investment Incentives

ERA has developed Standardized Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), Implementation Agreements (IAs) and model licenses in consultation with development partners, lenders and power project developers.  This has resulted into the reduction in advisory service costs and the time required to negotiate the first initializing of a standardized PPA by a developer and UETCL (from six months to one week).

Applicable Tax Laws

Taxes in Uganda are assessed and collected by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), headed by a Commissioner General.

Within the organizational structure of URA, two operational departments (Domestic Taxes and Customs) headed by Commissioners are directly responsible for the assessment and collection of revenues resulting from the tax laws below:

  1. Customs Tariff Act, Cap. 337;
  2. East African Customs Management Act;
  3. East African Excise Management Act;
  4. Excise Tariff Act, Cap. 338;
  5. Income Tax Act, Cap. 340;
  6. Stamps Act, Cap. 342;
  7. Traffic and Road Safety Act, Cap. 361;
  8. Value Added Tax Act, Cap. 349;
  9. Finance Acts (Various);

Income Tax

In Uganda, income tax generally applies to all types of persons who derive income, whether an individual, bodies of persons (companies), or corporate entities. Resident persons are taxed on worldwide income, while non-resident persons are taxed only on income derived from sources within Uganda. 

Income tax is imposed on three broad categories of income – Business income, Employment income and Property income.
Most of the taxes imposed are self-assessed. The self-assessment system imposes on the taxpayer, in the first instance, responsibility for calculating taxable income and the tax due on that income. The taxpayer's calculations may however be reviewed by revenue officials when returns are filed and may be subject to further audit.

Tax rates for Individuals in Employment

Employers are required by law to deduct tax from an employee’s salary or else they become personally liable for the tax that should have been deducted. The monthly PAYE (Pay As You Earn) rates are shown below:

CHARGEABLE INCOME (CY TAX RATE
UGX (MONTHLY) RESIDENTS NON-RESIDENTS
0 to 235,000 Nil CY x 10%
235,000 to 335,000 CY – 235,000) x 10% CY x 10%
335,000 to 410,000 (CY – 335,000) x 20% + (10,000) (CY – 335,000) x 20% + (33,500)
410,000 to 10,000,000 CY – 410,000) x 30% + (25,000) (CY – 410,000) x 30% + (48,500)
ABOVE 10,000,000 [(CY – 410,000) x 30% + (25,000)] +[(CY – 10,000,000) x 10%] [(CY – 410,000) x 30% + (48,500)]+[(CY – 10,000,000) x 10%]

Tax rates for Companies

The income tax rate for a company i.e. a body of persons, corporate or unincorporated, created or recognized under any law in Uganda or elsewhere, is 30% of the entity’s CHARGEABLE INCOME i.e. gross income less tax allowable deductions.

For non-resident companies, an additional 15% tax may become chargeable on repatriated branch profits.

Withholding tax on payments to Resident & Non-resident persons

The obligation to withhold tax lies with a withholding agent who is defined under the Finance Act to mean any person required to withhold tax upon making any payment to a payee. A payee is any person who receives a payment from which tax is required to be withheld. The tax rates are subject to existing Double Taxation Agreements. Tax withheld may be final or creditable. Rates for this bracket generally lie between 6% and 15% of a given payment.

Income Tax reporting obligations

  1. I.    Final annual returns by individuals, companies, partnerships and trusts are filed within 6 months after the year end;
  2. II.    Provisional annual returns by companies are filed within 6 months after the accounting year; while individuals file the same within 3 months after the accounting year. There’s an option to amend the return before the year end; and,
  3. III.    Withholding tax returns, including PAYE (Pay As You Earn) returns are filed by the 15th of the month following the withholding.


NOTE: Repeal of Section 28 of Income Tax Act, Cap. 340 (Initial Allowance); The repeal of Section 28 (1) of Income Tax Act, Cap 340, implies that accelerated depreciation (initial allowance) is no longer available effective 1st July 2014. Uganda Revenue Authority further clarified that; Power houses are industrial buildings depreciated at 5 percent on straight-line basis, and that access roads to water ways, power house and intakes are not qualifying expenditure and therefore no depreciation allowance is applicable to the said roads.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

VAT (also referred to as Goods and Services Tax in other jurisdictions) is a consumption tax charged at a rate of 18% on all supplies made by taxable persons i.e. persons registered or required to register for VAT purposes. The threshold for VAT registration is an annual turnover of UGX 50m or UGX 12.5m within 3 months of trading.

Some transactions are beyond the scope of VAT and these are classified as Exempt supplies. Supplies on which VAT is charged at 0% are classified as zero-rated supplies.

Accounting for VAT

VAT becomes due depending on the time of supply. Under the VAT Act, a supply of goods or services takes place when any of the following takes place first –

  1. A tax invoice is issued for the supply;
  2. The goods are delivered;
  3. The services are rendered;
  4. The goods are made available; or
  5. The goods or services are paid for in whole or in part.

When any of the above takes place, the difference between VAT incurred by the person (input tax) and the VAT charged by the person (output tax) is paid to, or claimed as an offset or cash refund from the tax authority.

VAT reporting obligations

All taxable persons are required to file a return for every tax period (i.e. month) within 15 days after the end of the month.
NOTE: VAT Exemption for other Technologies. Hydro and solar renewable technologies for electricity generation are VAT exempt. However, other renewable technologies for generating electricity including bagasse, biomass, biogas, landfill gas, geothermal and wind are not yet classified as VAT exempt.

Excise Duty

This is a tax that is imposed on specified imported or locally manufactured goods, and services. Essentially it is a tax on “luxury” items. The applicable rates may be specific or ad valorem.

The tax is imposed on the value of the import; and in the case of locally manufactured goods, the duty (local excise duty) is payable on the ex-factory price of the manufactured goods.

Exported locally manufactured goods are exempt from excise duty.

Persons supplying excisable goods and services are required to register and file monthly Returns to the tax authority by the 15th day of the month following the month in which delivery of the goods was made.

Stamp Duty

Stamp Duty is imposed by the Stamps Act. It is a duty payable on any instrument (document) which upon being created, transferred, limited, extended, extinguished or recorded, confers upon any person, a right or liability.

The affected instruments (currently about 66) are listed in the Schedules to the Stamps Act. The applicable rates are either fixed or ad valorem.

The most common instruments that attract stamp duty include –

  1. Affidavits
  2. Agreements or Memorandums of Agreement
  3. Company Articles and Article of Association (0.5%)
  4. Caveats
  5. Insurance policies
  6. Powers of Attorney
  7. Promissory Notes
  8. Mortgage Deeds (0.5%)
  9. Debentures (0.5%)
  10. Transfer of immovable property (1%)

Customs Duty

This is a tax levied on goods imported (import duty) or exported (export duty) from Uganda at specific or ad valorem rates. The East African Community Customs Management Act 2004 (EACCMA) is the legal framework for customs operations in Uganda and the region as a whole.

Documents for importation of goods

The following import documents may be required for purposes of making a declaration to customs:

  1. A Bill of lading or airway bill;
  2. An Insurance certificate;
  3. Pro-forma invoices.
  4. Commercial invoices
  5. A Certificate of Origin
  6. Permits for restricted goods
  7. Purchase order
  8. Packing list
  9. Sales contract; and,
  10. Any other supporting documents

Valuation of imported Goods

Goods imported into the country from without the EAC must be valued for taxation purposes i.e. a customs value must be determined. The customs value forms the basis for computation of customs duties which include import duty, Value Added Tax, Withholding tax, Excise duty and other duties e.g. environmental levy. Applicable tax rates are defined in the Customs External Tariff.

Goods are valued using the following methods adopted by GATT (General Agreement on Tariff and Trade) and applied chronologically –

  1. Transaction value;
  2. Transaction value of identical goods;
  3. Transaction value of similar goods;
  4. Deductive value;
  5. Computed value; and,
  6. Fall back value;

Rates of duty

Generally, the following rates will apply to an import of goods from outside the community:

  1. Import Duty - 25%
  2. VAT - 18%
  3. WHT - 6%
  4. Excise Duty - varies

NOTE: Equipment used in the construction of renewable energy generation plants is exempted from import duty.

Profit Repatriation Policy and investor asset protection

For non-resident companies, an additional 15% in income tax may be chargeable on repatriated branch profits. The provisions of Section 27 of the Investment Code Act ensure that the interests of a licensed investor may only be expropriated when it "is necessary for public use or in the interest of defense, public safety, public order, public morality or public health..." The said act also guarantees "prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation, prior to the taking of possession or acquisition of the property."

The Act also guarantees any person who has an interest or right over expropriated property access to a court of law. Uganda is a member of the Multilateral Investment Guaranty Agency (MIGA) and the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

The Central Bank’s foreign exchange rate policy

In line with a liberalised current and capital account of the balance of payments, Bank of Uganda pursues a flexible exchange rate policy regime. In this regime, the price of the shilling visa-vis the US dollar and other foreign currencies is determined by the market forces of demand and supply.

Bank of Uganda’s involvement in the foreign exchange market is limited to occasional interventions (purchase or sale of foreign currency) only to dampen excessive volatility in the exchange rate.
Stable exchange rate movements in either direction (appreciation or depreciation), enables the proper planning by all market players.

Renewable Energy Opportunities

1.   Hydro

1.1  Large Hydro

The potential for development of large hydropower projects along River Nile is estimated at about 2,000 MW. With only 380 MW developed at Kiira and Nalubaale, and 250 MW at Bujagali, the unexploited potential is well over 1300MW. Table 1 shows the potential capacity of the identified large hydropower sites along the Nile River which have potential for development.

The development of large power projects along the River Nile are developed by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.

Table 1: Large Hydropower Sites along the Nile River

No Site Location Potential Capacity (MW) Status
1 Murchison Falls (Uhuru) Nwoya/Bulisa 642 Preliminary studies available with MEMD. This site is located in a national park.
2 Kiba Nwoya/Masindi 295 Preliminary studies are available with MEMD.

1.2   Small Hydro

Small hydro presents a category of energy sources which could sustainably contribute to enhancement of rural electrification especially if the project area has no existing power distribution. The table below shows small hydropower sites that are available for development.

It is important to note that the above list is not in any way conclusive or representative of the available potential. Intending developers are encouraged to scout for potential sites in the Eastern part of Uganda (The Mountain Elgon region) and the Western Districts of Ibanda, Rubiriizi, Buhweju, Kabale, Kisoro, Kabarole and Rukungiri.

Although several sites have been identified and Licensed from the Mountain Rwenzori ranges, the mountains still represent a very high untapped potential for small hydropower.

Table 2: Available micro hydro power sites for development

No Site District Estimated Capacity (MW)
1 Ela Arua 1.5
2 Ririma Kapchorwa 1.5
3 Nyarwodo Nebbi 0.4
4 Agoi Arua 0.35
5 Kitumba Kabale 0.2
6 Amua Moyo 0.18
7 Ngiti Bundibugyo 0.15
8 Leya Moyo 0.12
9 Nyakibale Rukungiri 0.1
10 Miria Adua Arua 0.1
11 Manafwa Mbale 0.15

2    Biomass

Biomass based power generation is increasingly becoming competitive and considerably cheaper than thermal power based on fossil fuels. The need for modern biomass energy has become more tenable due to increased electricity demand, coupled with unfavorable weather changes that have resulted into decreased water levels in Lake Victoria.

Co-generation is convenient in situations where there are excess agricultural residues such as bagasse, coffee and rice husks. In the case of sugar industries, there is often excess bagasse after the factory requirement, which can be used to generate electricity for local sale or for feeding into the national grid. Click here for a map of the biomass distribution in Uganda.

3    Geothermal

Geothermal energy is one of the possible alternative renewable energy sources in Uganda which could supplement other sources of energy.

More than 40 geothermal sites were studied for their prospects parameters like temperature, chemistry of reservoir, natural heat transfer and fluid characteristics to identify specific project areas and prioritize those for more detailed investigation. These investigations revealed three major potential areas for detailed exploration, namely; Katwe-Kikorongo, Buranga and Kibiro. These are all situated in or near the Western Rift Valley of Uganda (zone of most recent volcanic activities). According to the Renewable Energy Policy of Uganda, 2007, the combined geothermal potential from these three major areas is 450MW. The major geothermal sites and respective locations are indicated in here and table 3 below.

District Site Name Temperature (ºC) Remarks
Kasese Katwe-Kikorongo

Surface temp: 71 ºC

Inferred Reservoir temp: 150-230 ºC

The results obtained from surface studies carried out so far have provided sufficient information for development of geothermal energy program.  Katwe-Kikorongo site has been selected for drilling of a first geothermal well in Uganda. The site has occurrence of a medium to high temperature resource.
Bundibugyo Buranga

Surface temp: 97 ºC

Inferred Reservoir temp: 120-150 ºC

The results obtained from surface studies carried out so far indicate that Nyansimbe and Mumbuga in Buranga (Sempaya valley) have the highest surface heat output among the thermal prospects considered and provide sufficient information for the development of geothermal energy program
Kibiro Kibiro Surface temp: 84 ºC
Inferred Reservoir temp: 200 ºC and above
The results from surface studies indicate that Kibiro site has moderate surface heat output among the thermal prospects considered, and provided sufficient information for development of geothermal energy program.

Source:    Report on the Renewable Energy Resource Information Development and Capacity Building Assessment in Uganda by Kamfor Company Limited, January 2007

4    Solar

Existing solar data clearly shows that the solar energy resource in Uganda is high throughout the year. With mean solar radiation of 5.1 kWh/m2 per day on a horizontal surface, the country has a potential of 11.98 x 108 MWh gross energy resources. At an estimated conversion efficiency of 10%, the country has available power of 11.98 x 107 MWh. Click here for a map showing solar energy availability in Uganda.

At present, solar photo-voltaic (PV) electricity is not generated in sufficient quantities for inter-connection to the national grid. However, one of the long-term policy measures to increase diversity and security in energy supply in the country is to develop small renewable projects including the use solar PV generated electrical energy.

In that regard, the Board of ERA in April 2014 considered and approved a Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) of US$ 11 Cents per kWh for grid connected solar PV energy.

4.1    Implementation of grid-connected Solar PV projects in Uganda through competitive bidding

Continuous technological advancements have resulted into cheaper and more efficient solar photovoltaic technology worldwide. Benefits from these improvements can only be realized through effective management of the cost of production of electricity from this resource. Competitive procurement of such capacity is one of the most effective means of guaranteeing reasonable and fair pricing of solar power, as well as harnessing the benefits of such modular technologies, including system loss reduction and voltage stability.

From a technical perspective, solar photovoltaic generation is associated with frequent power swings owing to its intermittent nature. This therefore calls for accurate determination of the extent to which the national electricity grid can accommodate power from solar without adversely affecting the quality of power supply. To this effect, extensive studies are currently being conducted by the System Operator, the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited.

The major outcome of these studies will be the determination of the optimal amount of grid-connected solar power that can be accommodated by the national electricity grid without causing power evacuation and grid stability challenges. The findings will inform the Authority on the amount of solar power that can be competitively tendered out in the medium and long term.

Accordingly, the public is hereby notified that with effect from 1st January 2015, procurement of new capacity from solar technology will be subject to a competitive tendering process initiated by the ERA in accordance with the Electricity Act, 1999 Chapter 145, Laws of Uganda. See copy of the public notice

5    Wind

Recent studies indicate that the wind speed in most areas of Uganda is moderate, with average wind speeds in low heights (less than 10 m) ranging from 2 m/s to about 4 m/s. Based on wind data collected by the Meteorology Department, it was concluded that the wind energy resource in Uganda is only sufficient for small scale electricity generation and for special applications, such as water pumping mainly in the Karamoja region. Small industries in rural areas where targets for a mill range from 2.5kVA to 10kVA could benefit from the wind resource. Click here for a map showing wind energy availability in Uganda

6    Waste to Energy

The conversion of municipal waste to energy will not only improve the process of waste management in the cities, but also contribute to the energy mix. According to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, it is estimated that Kampala city alone generates 730,000 tons of waste per year, of which 70% is organic waste. There are major districts around the country with considerable waste volumes such as Wakiso, Mbarara and Jinja, all of which represent considerable waste to energy potential.

7    Peat

Peat is not technically a renewable energy source. However, a theoretical peat volume of about 250 Million tons exists in Uganda (Source: The Renewable Energy Policy for Uganda, November 2007). Taking into consideration the varying quality of peat, the rather strict wetland policy in Uganda as well as the impossibility to use conventional peat production methods, only 10% of the available volume may be available for power generation. This peat resource volume would be adequate for generation of about 800 MW for the next 50 years. Available peat resources are dispersed mainly to Western and South-Western Uganda, where the desired characteristics are better than in other regions.