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Govt to focus on 600MW Karuma power project in next budget

By Vision Reporter

Added 1st May 2012 11:09 AM

Tinto Onywegeredde is in the agroprocessing business and boasts of five maize mills.He shelved plans to start a milk processing plant five years ago when there was acute power supply shortage.

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Tinto Onywegeredde is in the agroprocessing business and boasts of five maize mills.He shelved plans to start a milk processing plant five years ago when there was acute power supply shortage.

By Ibrahim Kasita
 
Tinto Onywegeredde is in the agroprocessing business and boasts of five maize mills.He shelved plans to start a milk processing plant five years ago when there was acute power supply shortage.
 
“I have now started seeing stability in power supply and I plan to execute my idea in the second half of this year,” he said while negotiating with his bankers for a dairy project loan.
 
The long awaited Bujagali hydropower project has started generating electricity onto the national grid. It is expected that with full launch in June, there will be no more load-shedding for at least two years.
 
But what is clear is that all investment projects that were shelved will be revamped and this will increase demand for power, raising fear that if nothing is done to build another big power station, Uganda will slide back to 48-hour load shedding like it was five years ago.
 
“Electricity is necessary if you want economic and social transformation,” Thorbjorn Gaustadsaether, the Norwegian ambassador asserted.
 
“The industry needs power. With jobs and electrification comes social development.”
 
And in the next financial year (2012/2013), Uganda has focused on the construction of the 600MW Karuma hydropower project.
 
According to the National Budget Framework Paper, over sh215b has been set aside to kick-start the project.
 
“The hydropower plant and associated transmission line will be constructed using resources from the energy fund as a public project,” stated the paper.
 
Already, a detailed project feasibility study and engineering designs have been concluded.The procurement process to acquire a contractor to undertake the construction has started.
 
Eng. Irene Muloni, the energy minister, said the Government will continue to implement key priority projects in the energy sector, specifically increasing the generation capacity and transmission infrastructure. She added that the Government will also increase access to modern energy services through rural electrification and renewable energy development.
 
One of the National Development Plan objectives is to increase power generation between 780MW and 820MW from the current 330MW, as well as increase rural electrification to 10% and promote efficiency programmes and renewable energy sources countrywide.
 
At the moment, the installed capacity stands at 603MW, including thermal and hydropower plants.
 
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.
 
Based on the current economic growth (7%), domestic power demand will increase from 370MW to 1,130MW in 2023, a new study indicated.
 
Power 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.
 
The study, a draft Hydropower Master Plan, found out that watergenerated electricity is one of the best options for Uganda. It identified seven potential hydropower sites.
 
But three prospective sites of Karuma, Isimba and Ayago were selected for immediate development.
 
The study was funded by the Japanese government through its development arm, Japan International Cooperation Agency.
The energy ministry requested a thorough investigation and prioritization of potential hydropower sites and preparation of the plan up to 2030 under its energy sector development strategy.
 
Lack of new generation plants to match the demand for electricity, coupled with prolonged drought between 2003 and 2006, has led to irregular and expensive power supply.
 
The acute electricity shortage forced the Government to resort to load-shedding, which slowed down economic growth.
The Government devised the short, medium and long term plan to put up a new strategy of anticipating electricity demand ahead instead of the old approach of chasing demand forecasts.
 
This is through attracting local, foreign, public and private investors, aiming at ensuring that electricity ultimately reaches every part of the country as directed by the President.
 
And the energy ministry aims at diversifying sources of power to increase supply and have it delivered at affordable tariffs. With the new investments, electricity supply has increased.
 
The Government has encouraged the use of renewable sources of energy, including biogas for lighting and cooking, as well as energy saving stoves.
 
The Uganda Electricity Transmission Company is spearheading the formation of an East African power pool to enable the sharing of surplus electricity in the region.
 
Another objective is to improve the interconnection system in the DR Congo and Rwanda
 
“We are glad the energy sector financing problems are resolved, so the investors will remain in Uganda. They need predictability and stability,” Gaustadsaether advised.
 

 

Govt to focus on 600MW Karuma power project in next budget

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