Uganda: Govt Sorry for Power Blackouts in North Uganda

The government has issued an apology over the continuous power blackouts in northern Uganda for the past decade.

Ms Ziria Tibalwa Waako, the chief executive officer of Uganda's Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), last Friday, said she regretted the impact of the blackouts on the economic progress on the region.

"We are evaluating the impact and that is why you see all of us here," she said.

Ms Waako made the remarks at the Northern Uganda Business Forum in Gulu City.

The forum was organised by Uganda Development Bank and Operation Wealth Creation programme to sensitize entrepreneurs in the region about the available financing and business opportunities within government.

Ms Ziria said the inadequate electricity supply to Acholi region is due to the weak electricity lines that the government inherited from the colonialists.

"Because we inherited the colonial grid which is like a radio line (single line), when you want to do planned shutdown to connect or maintain transmission or distribution, you have to switch off people because there are no alternative supply lines and it is the north which is affected," she said.

She added that the north has been supplied using 33Kv which is a medium voltage and limits the capacity of the region to develop.

However, she revealed that there are plans to upgrade the supply line to 132kv via Tororo-Opuyo-Lira-Gulu and that this will help to solve the issue.

We shall have three lines supplying the region and all these will all back up the north, two of them are connected to Karuma Dam (Karuma-Olwiyo line and Karuma-Lira line) while the other line evacuates power from Achwa to Gulu," she noted.

Although she emphasised that the government was doing all it takes to keep electricity tariffs low and affordable to Ugandans, Ms Ziria said electricity prices had remained high due to huge investments that the government is currently undertaking.

Gen Salim Saleh, the OWC chief coordinator, said the economic progress of the region had been severely hampered by lack of sustainable power supply.

"... I wonder why the sector players are taking forever to fix this considering the many opportunities that this region boasts of," Gen Saleh said.

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