By Taddeo Bwambale
The Government has cleared a Chinese firm to start construction of the 188 megawatt (MW) Isimba Hydropower dam.
China International Water & Electric Corporation (CWEC) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Government last week.
The energy ministry’s assistant commissioner for electric power, Eng. Henry Bidasala, said the preparations for signing a contract with the firm were ongoing, adding that the process would be concluded by the end of next month.
The Chinese government will finance the project with a $570m (sh1.4trillion) loan.
Through a bilateral arrangement, the Chinese government and the EXIM Bank, will provide the funds.
“We have submitted our assessment of the land and assets in the area to the chief government valuer, after which we shall start paying the residents,” Bidasala said.
The project will enable at least 350 households to access electricity. Preliminary estimates show that each affected household will receive a package of $10,000 (about sh25m). According to Bidasala-Igaga, the residents will be given a three-month period to leave the project site after receiving their packages.
Upon completion, Isimba hydropower dam will be the fourth largest hydropower project in Uganda, after the 250MW Bujagali power project that was switched on last year, the 600MW Karuma dam and the 600MW Ayago power station.
The proposed plan indicates that Isimba will be located 40km downstream from Bujagali dam.
The hydropower project also includes the construction of a 132 MKV power transmission line connecting to Bujagali.
Lin Renwei, the CWEC country representative, said the hydropower project would be produced at 68 cents per kilowatt hour, considered the lowest in East Africa.
The extension of power to more areas is expected to be boosted by smaller renewable hydropower projects that will deliver a total of 68.5 MW to the national grid.
They include Buseruka (9MW), Nyagak I (3.5MW), Kisizi (0.26MW), Bugoye (13MW), Mpanga (18MW), and Ishasha (6.5MW).