31 January 2013

Uganda: Govt Pledges to Solve Electricity Shortage

Photo: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS
The government has promised power shortage will be a thing of the past.

Following the addition of nine megawatts of electricity from the newly-commissioned Kabalega hydro power station to the national grid, government has reiterated its commitment to boost power production and solve electricity shortage in the country.

After commissioning the dam, President Yoweri Museveni pledged that in the next three years, electricity shortage will be history. Museveni revealed a long list of hydro power stations that have been lined up for construction. These, he emphasised, will boost electricity production and drive the country to middle-income status. He said electricity would also mitigate climate change effects in addition to promoting industrialisation.

The Kabalega plant is the first power plant in Bunyoro sub-region. The dam is located near Kabaale, the proposed site for an oil refinery. The dam is expected to be instrumental in providing the much-needed electricity to the refinery and its offshoot industries. Drawing comparisons with Uganda's colonial masters, Museveni said his government has done much better.

"The power we have been able to generate in three years is far more than what colonialists generated in 70 years," he said.

Museveni revealed that in the last three years, government has constructed six dams that have added 311 megawatts to the national grid. He said that after commissioning Kabalega, a string of other dams are already lined up for construction. These are: Isimba 188MW), Karuma (600MW), Ayago (600MW), Kikagati (16MW), Muzizi (26MW), Achwa (42MW), and Kitagata (300MW) (geothermal) among others.

"Good things have just started in Uganda," he said.

The African Development bank funded the construction of Kabalega dam. The dam has three turbines with each producing three megawatts. The $30m project is expected to power over 1,000 households in Hoima and Masindi districts, in addition to lighting up hospitals, schools, churches and community centres. Electricity from the dam will be connected to the Hoima power substation before it joins the national grid.

Energy and Mineral Development Minister Irene Muloni said government has already signed a memorandum of understanding with developers to produce geothermal power to a tune of around 300 megawatts. On Karuma, Muloni said she expects the process of awarding the contract to be completed soon and the contractor to be on site before the end of March. "If we don't have other delays, we expect the contractor on site before the end of this quarter," she said.

Government has now started constructing power lines. Muloni said government is constructing the Hoima-Nyantonzi, Hoima-Butiaba-Bulisa and Nalweyo Kakindo power transmission lines to extend power to rural areas. She noted that plans are also underway to construct Waki hydro power station on river Waki that separates Hoima and Buliisa districts. A private investor will construct the Waki power plant.

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