By Ibrahim Kasita
UGANDA'S electricity demand is expected to triple in the next decade assuming economic growth trends continue, paving way for increased investments in the sector.
â€œBased on the current economic growth (7%), domestic power demand will increase from 370MW to 1,130MW in 2023,â€ a new study has indicated.
â€œPower demand in neighbouring countries like Kenya will also rise which will result in an increase in demand of imports of electricity from neighbouring countries by transmission interconnections.â€
The study â€“ a draft Hydropower Master Plan â€“ found out that water-generated electricity is one of the best options for Uganda. It identified seven potential hydropower sites.
But three prospective sites â€“ Karuma, Isimba and Ayago â€“were selected for immediate development. The study was funded by the Japanese government through its development arm â€“ Japan International Cooperation Agency. The energy ministry requested a thorough investigation and prioritisation of potential hydropower sites and preparation of the plan up to 2030 under its energy sector development strategy.
The revelation comes at time when the East African Community states â€“Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi â€“are facing power shortages due to climatic change which affected hydrological conditions.
To meet the shortage gap, Uganda has deployed emergency thermal power supply since 2005, which necessitated high subsidies to mitigate high tariff.
â€œIt is therefore crucial to develop the countryâ€™s hydropower resources to provide cheaper electricity,â€ Paul Mubiru, the director of energy, stated.
â€œThis we can do with our Energy Fund, inviting independent power producers and or public-private partnership.â€
He said the energy sector key priorities were increasing power generation capacity, building transmission lines, accelerating rural electrification, promoting energy efficiency and strengthening the policy, legal and institutional framework.
Others are promoting renewable energy, promoting peaceful applications of nuclear energy and building capacity in the energy sector.
â€œThe development of the master plan on hydropower development is a step in the right direction towards achieving the objectives of the National Development Plan,â€ Mubiru said.
It means that a worker from either Kenya or Tanzania has a higher job output compared to their Ugandan counter.