UMEME is on a drive to get everyone on the national grid to their “Yaka” prepaid meter. After full deployment, it’s said that the new meter will save the company billions of shillings in costs spent paying staff to read meters and process bills across the country. The Yaka prepaid meter was received with a lot of mixed reactions from the general public. Others applaud the service while others complain of being cheated by UMEME.
First, Its important to understand the Electricity Supply chain in Uganda. There are 3 major companies; The Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) which handles power production, then the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) handles transmission of power and then lastly distribution which is by UMEME. All three are governed by the Electricity Regulation Authority (ERA). Its ERA that is mandated to regulate the sector setting tariffs among many other things.
If YAKA hasn’t reached you yet, be rest assured that it will soon do so. Here are 5 things you need to know about the Yaka prepaid meter before it’s installed on your premises replacing the old analog meter.
Yaka Tariffs and Billing
As if reminiscent of the old days when the Telecoms had just come, UMEME too charges a standard service fee on all domestic users of Ugx 3,360 per month.
For each new month, UMEME charges you 150 shillings for the first 15 Units then 520 Shillings for every other unit purchased that month. These fees are set by the Electricity Regulation Authority (ERA).
All transactions carry an 18% VAT on them. (A tax set by the government). The major point here being that you can’t buy prepaid electricity for less than 10,000 Ugx and here is why. Lets say you pay 10,000 shillings in a new month. We start by deducting off 3,360 service fee then 18% VAT of the total amount (1,800 Ugx) totalling to 5,160 of the 10,000 you have paid. The first 15 Units would then cost 2,250. With a balance of 2,590 we would then purchase 4.9 Kw at 520 each. This would give us a total of 19.9Kw at a value of 10,000. All this is based on the assumption that you have no arrears because if you do, there will be further deductions.
If you made a second transaction within the same month of let’s say 10,000 Ugx, UMEME will deduct 18% VAT totalling to 1,800 and then give you each unit (Kilowatt) at 520. So for 8,200 Ugx which is the balance after VAT, you will then get 15.7 Units or kilowatts.
Yaka Preloaded Units
Upon installation, UMEME gives every customer 30 preloaded units at a cost of Ugx 18,000. The money is recovered by deducting 10% of every purchase made till the entire amount is recovered.
How Umeme handles Arrears
At the time of switch from the postpaid to the prepaid meter, one may have arrears that weren’t cleared. Umeme recovers this by deducting a certain percentage of all your future payments till the amount is cleared.
There’s no clear formula on how or what percentages Umeme deducts on your current Yaka account to recover the arrears. When I called Customer Care to explain, all I got is that they deduct in different percentages depending on how big your debt is.
How to Reload Yaka units
Fortunately, paying for Yaka isn’t a hustle. There are 2 ways to load Yaka Units. One can either use the various Yaka vendors who will give a token ID with a stipulated number of Units (measured in KWh).
When you are given a token ID, all you have to do is enter the numbers into the meter using the keypad. Once all the numbers are entered, the Units will automatically be added.
You can also use Umeme’s Touch pay service in collaboration with MTN Mobile money. Go to your Mobile Money menu> select pay Bill >utility>Umeme Touch pay > Yaka. You’ll be prompted to enter your meter number followed by how much you want to pay and then your Mobile Money PIN. Once the transaction is complete, you will then receive confirmation of the transaction followed by a token ID in a message.
You enter the token ID to retrieve your Units. One can also use Orange Money, Airtel Money, MSente, Payway among the many ways to reload your Yaka.
How to check your Yaka meter number
When the meter is new, it may take you a while to get the meter number off head. If you forget it, you don’t have to worry you can check it by pressing #100# and your meter number will display across the screen.