The sector was earmarked among the key areas that needed urgent attention in President Yoweri Museveni’s fifth term, if Uganda was to support its industries.
Two years down the road, a number of achievements have been registered in Uganda’s energy sector as the National Resistance Movement (NRM) moves towards implementation of its manifesto that is aimed at ‘taking Uganda into modernity through job creation and inclusive development’.
“Uganda has been deficient in infrastructure, especially energy, roads, air transport, water transport and railways,” the 2016-2021 manifesto states. Part of the energy sector is the electricity, a sub-sector that has been tipped to lead to economic transformation. According to the manifesto, the following plans were made for the next five years.
“The NRM Government was committed to improving electricity generation and supply to support industrialisation, as well as ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy. Commitments at regional and international level have been made, to improve electricity generation and sharing among partner states through the Eastern Africa Power Pool (EAPP) to rationalise the generation and use of modern energy,” it stated.
According to the Manifesto, the focus of NRM would be on completing the power plants listed: Karuma (600MW), Isimba (183MW), Aswa-Agago (88MW), Neengo Bridge (6.5MW), Kakaka (7.2MW), Nkusi (4.8MW), Muziizi (44.5MW) and Kyambura (8.3MW). Other plants are Kikagati (16MW), Ntono (2.5MW), Kinyara (25MW), Nyagak III (4.5MW), Rwimi (10.54MW), Nyamwamba (9.2MW), Lubilia (5.4MW), Esia (0.11MW), Nshungyezi (38MW), Sindoro (5.6MW), Mitaano (2.9MW), Siti (21.5MW), Muvumba (4.5MW), Solar power (20MW) and Muyembe (3.2MW).
It would also be committed to completing the transmission lines namely: Opuyo -Moroto - Ayago Interconnection project (132kV), Bulambuli (Atari) - Mbale Industrial Park (132kV), Hoima-Kinyara-Kafu (220kV), Lira – Gulu – Agago (132kV), Mirama – Kabale (132kV) and Nkenda – Mpondwe – Beni. Another pledge was to increase the power generation capacity to drive economic development.
“The NRM Government will build additional electricity generating capacity at Murchison Falls (700MW), Oryang (392MW), Uhuru (350MW), Kiba (300MW) and Albatros thermal plant (50MW). “This will give Uganda a capacity of 4,356MW. We will also explore and develop another 300MW of electricity from the geothermal potential in the country. The Rwenzori region, the Ebitagata in the Katwe area has the potential to generate energy,” states the manifesto.
Other pledges are expanding the electricity transmission grid network, increasing energy efficiency, promoting the use of alternative sources of energy, including continuing to build the capacity needed to exploit nuclear energy using the locally available uranium deposits. There will also be strengthening of the policy, legal and institutional framework, and connecting Buliisa, Adjumani, Moyo and Otuke districts, to the national grid, as well as complete supply to Nwoya, Kotido, Kaabong and Buvuma.
Increased generation capacity
By 2015, Uganda had 850MW of installed capacity with effective generation of approximately 710 MW, of which approximately 645MW is hydro and 101.5 MW is thermal generating capacity.
Progress so far Over the last two years, the country has seen the commissioning of different small generation plants that have significantly contributed to the country’s installed capacity.
Julius Wandera, the communications manager at the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), says the sector has registered a number of achievements. “We have witnessed more stability in the electricity supply,” he says. He explains that this has been on account of commissioning more generation plants, particularly under the Global Energy Transfer Feed-in-Tariff (GET FiT) programme.
These, among others, included commissioning of two solar plants in Soroti and Tororo districts, each with installed generation capacity of 10MW. Others are Lubilia (5.4MW), Rwimi (5.5MW), Muvumba (6.5MW) and 50MW Kakira bagasse co-generation plant in Jinja. According ERA, the country’s current installed generation capacity totalled about 930MW, as of end of last year.
This capacity comprises 708.34MW (81%) of hydropower, bagasse co-generation of 46MW (5.3%), solar – 20MW (2.3%), and thermal (non-renewable energy) at 100MW (11.4%). Wandera also explains that positioning of these generation plants in different parts of the country results in supply stability in those respective areas. “For example, we shall see stability in electricity supply in the Northern and West Nile regions once the 42MW Achwa 2 hydro project is commissioned later this year.”
More power expected
In addition, the country is expected to benefit from another 896.76MW from 12 projects that have been licensed by the ERA and are currently under construction. These, among others, include 600MW and 183MW from the Karuma and Isimba projects respectively.
Both projects are expected to be commissioned this year. Karuma is currently at 77% progress, while Isimba’s physical progress is estimated at 81.5%, according to the Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL). UEGCL is the government implementing agency on both Isimba and Karuma, Uganda’s flagship power projects. The projects are expected to be commissioned before the end of year.
These projects are expected, to not only provide sufficient power for the country, but also bring down the cost of electricity. In the next three years, about 17 mini hydro plants are expected to be connected to the grid.
Electricity transmission The party also set out to complete a number of transmission lines that, among others, include Opuyo-Moroto-Ayago interconnection project, Bulambuli-Mbale transmission line and HoimaKinyara-Kafu line. “There has been improvement in the power supply infrastructure over the last two years,” Wandera says.
The Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) implementation at Opuyo -Moroto - Ayago Interconnection project 132kV is currently ongoing at 88% progress, according to Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL). Procurement of the contractor for the project, whose construction works shall be financed by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), is on-going.
Information from UETCL also indicates that feasibility study on the 60km long Bulambuli - Mbale industrial park transmission line is on-going. The line is intended to provide adequate capacity to evacuate power from renewable projects like 6.2MW Siti I & 16.5MW Siti II projects in Bukwo district and the proposed Ngenge 1 and 2 hydro projects in eastern Uganda.
On the Hoima-Kinyara-Kafu line, the feasibility study has been concluded and the resettlement action plan that is ongoing is currently at 45%.
Umeme has added a number of substations in different areas like Namugongo, Lugazi, Queen’s Way substations that have resulted into stable power supply for different consumer categories. UEDCL, the distribution company, has also extended power to different rural increasing access to power by Ugandans.
Bujagali refinancing The two years also saw negotiations for loan restructuring at the Bujagali hydro project come to conclusion. The negotiations were meant to increase the tenure of the $890m loan tenure that was due to expire in 2023. The refinancing package was extended to last up to 2032.