6 July 2010

Uganda: Karuma Power Station Works to Start

Kampala — The Government will construct two more hydro-electric power dams next year to increase generation and distribution capacity to meet the growing power demand.

The dams under plan are the Karuma and Isimba (Victoria Nile) power stations expected to add 700 mega watts and 100 mega watts respectively to the national grid.

The dams would be in addition to the 250 mega watt-Bujagali hydropower plant under construction with 70% of the civil works complete.

Simon D'Ujanga, the energy state minister, noted that Uganda was among the African countries with less access to electricity.The minister argued that this justified the need for more dams coupled with investments in renewable energy technology.

"Our access levels to electricity stands at only 12%. The majority of our population depends on the traditional biomass energy. "About 93% of our energy balance is met by bio-fuels, which is not sustainable in the long run, in addition to being unhealthy environmentally," D'Ujanga said.

This was contained in a speech read by Godfrey Ndawula, the assistant commissioner for new and renewable sources of energy, at the launch of the Green Power Solar Home Lighting Systems at Protea Hotel Kampala on Friday.

The solar systems are distributed by Seven Hills Impex, local dealers in electrical and power management systems. The company also distributes for the India-based Su-Kam, popular for manufacturing inverters and other energy-saving products.

D'Ujanga said renewable energy technologies would help the Government meet the energy needs of the country's population for social and economic development in an environmentally sustainable manner.

"Su-Kam solar energy technology is expected to play a significant role in supplementing government rural electrification strategy," he said.

In addition to lighting continuously for 48 hours, the system can also power radios and charge mobile phones. N.S. Rao, the Seven Hills managing director, said the solar systems were designed to serve people either without access to electricity or those burdened with power bills.

The Karuma project is expected to distribute power to the northern region where there is little hydro-electric powered. The region relies on expensive and unreliable generator power.

Norpak, the Norwegian contractor that had for long been earmarked to do the project, pulled out of the deal last year, citing disagreement with the World Bank and due to the credit crunch.

The project had been slated to start this year and be commissioned in 2012.

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