New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Buseruka Dam to Supply Power to 1,000 Homes

The days of load shedding electricity are increasingly getting numbered, following the addition of 9 megawatts to the national grid by Hydromax Ltd, a renewable energy firm. President Museveni is expected to officially launch the project today Friday in Buseruka, Hoima district.

The $30m project on River Wambabya in Buseruka subcounty will provide, green energy adequate to power over 1,000 households in Hoima and Masindi, in addition to providing lighting for hospitals, schools, churches and community centres.

The project whose construction started in 2008, is owned by Hydromax Ltd, a subsidiary of Dott services Ltd, a company best known for road construction. The dam's technical commissioning was done on December 9 last year. "Despite the initial challenges we faced during the implementation of the project, it has had the fastest completion time from licensing to commissioning," said Maheshwara Reddy, the managing director of Dott services Ltd. He said the project had exposed more than 100 youths, who participated in the construction works, to a lot of technological transfer.

"I am happy to note that the technology transfer arising from this project will be very useful for similar projects in the future. And because of it, many areas have been opened up for rural electrifi cation," Maheshwara pointed out.

Rao Venugopal, the Hydromax Ltd project director, said while Dott Services handled all the civil construction works, the electro-mechanical works were done by Flovel Energy Pvt Ltd. The hydro-mechanical works on the other hand were executed by Sigma engineering Pvt Ltd together with Indo-Asiatic for gates and hoists works. He also pointed out that Utility Engineering Services Ltd is currently constructing the 44km of high voltage transmission lines in the area.

The construction works, according to Venugopal, are funded by the Government through Rural Electrification Agency of the

energy ministry. "When the construction works are completed, we shall be able to evacuate electricity from the power house to a substation in Hoima district where it will be connected to the national grid," said Venugopal.

He said TATA consulting engineers was in charge of project management from design to commissioning stage, supervision including training of technicians during the project's inception, on behalf of Hydromax.

Fred Kabagambe-Kaliisa, the permanent secretary, Ministry of Energy while on a recent site tour said the completion of the dam would be a huge boost to the sector, noting that it would lower power charges and enhance the region's development. He pointed out that the people of Bunyoro would get stable power supply when the dam is completed.

Kaliisa noted that construction of a line to evacuate power from the dam onto the national grid at Kinubi sub-station in Hoima would be completed soon. He said part of the power would be used in the oil exploration industry in the whole of Lake Albert region.

The project directors explain that they wanted to invest part of their resources in renewable energy in the country and that is how the idea of power generation came about. "As young entrepreneurs; we saw a big opportunity in Uganda for Hydro power projects due to its geographical and climatic conditions," said Reddy Prasad, director, Dott Services. He said before they explored the opportunity of investing in hydro power they first gathered enough data about similar projects in India.

Prasad, however, said after mobilising resources, they later established that there was no effective legal framework in place to guide the developers to set up and implement the project. He also noted that there were no proper roads to lead them down the escarpment to carry out the necessary geo-technical investigations and other studies in the area. "We had to do a lot of crossculverts and access roads to take the drilling rig down the escarpment," says Prasad. He explained that after overcoming the initial challenges, their next task was to mobilise the needed resources to fi nance the project.

Prasad said they (directors) are grateful to the African Development Bank who provided a loan of $9m (about sh18b) for construction of the dam. He also noted that the Eastern and Southern Trade Development Bank (PTA) in Nairobi provided additional funds for the project. "With the experience gained in development of the power dam, the promoters have embarked on carrying out feasibility studies for other potential projects including exploring wind energy," he explained.

After the dam's commissioning, Prasad said they had received a distribution license from the Electricity Regulation Agency to distribute the generated electricity in the two districts of Hoima and Masindi district respectively. He said the Buseruka project would contribute to economic development by facilitating growth and social service delivery.

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