As stipulated in its mandate, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has embarked on verification of electricity meters in a bid to ensure consumer protection and fair trade.
This is the latest intervention in the area of measurements that came as a result of the frequent complaints by the consumers of electricity meters in regard to billing.
UNBS convened a number of meetings with the stakeholders in the drafting of the enabling regulation until 2015 when it was enacted. The applicable regulation is the Statutory Instruments 2015 No.69 Weights and Measures (Electricity meters) Rules, 2015. UNBS acquired three testing equipment through TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) which supplied them in the current Quality Infrastructure and Standards Program (QUISP) project funded by the Swedish Government. Implementation commenced in July 2016.
Utility companies have so far submitted 3,000 samples for accuracy testing, private importers are submitting models for pattern Approval and also participation in factory Acceptance Test (FAT). Since implementation, the exercise has proved the dire need out there for UNBS interventions for purposes of consumer protection and also, in the long run, it will reduce power losses on the network. UNBS and Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) have a close collaboration in implementing the requirements of the law. The intervention of UNBS is to ensure fair trade in the billing of power and the correct power measuring meters are those with a UNBS verification sticker. Just as fuel pumps bear verification stickers indicating the verification status, the electricity consumers and utility companies are called upon to observe this requirement.
As the implementation deepens, UNBS has the following plans among others:
- More targeted stakeholders’ engagement
- Capitalisation in terms of infrastructure such as equipment, information management systems, human resource, etc.
- A robust system to ensure pattern approval, initial verification and re-verification of electricity meters
- Enforcement at the entry points, in the marketplace and mainstreaming of the requirements in the procurement processes
- Activation of administrative measures where violation of the law occurs such as warning letters, name and shame, recalls and prosecution of offenders