Uganda bets on SGR for higher power demand

Thursday January 4 2018

A technician working on electricity cables

A technician working on electricity cables upgrade. By December 2018, Uganda expects to generate an additional 600MW from Karuma dam and 183MW from Isimba dam. PHOTO FILE | NATION 

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Uganda’s investment in additional electricity generation is raising concerns in view of the low domestic consumption and the country’s competitiveness in power trade.

Uganda has an installed capacity of 921MW, and already exports electricity.

Uganda Electricity Generation Company Ltd CEO Harrison Mutikanga said proposed heavy consumers like the new railway and a phosphate factory will require increased power. It is estimated that the two projects will consume a total of 500MW.

By December 2018, Uganda expects to generate an additional 600MW from Karuma dam and 183MW from Isimba dam. The country plans to generate 2,500MW by 2020, and 4,800MW by 2030.

Access to electricity is at 22 per cent of the population, each with per capita consumption of 150kWh, making it one of the lowest rates among least developed countries.

Meanwhile, countries in the region are also enhancing their electricity generation potential.

Ethiopia’s 6,000MW Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile promises to generate enough power to be exported, especially to Djibouti that bought Treasury bonds to fund the dam.

In Kenya, there are prospects for geothermal power generation.

“This means that in Uganda we must be efficient to be competitive,” said Eng Mutikanga.  

Documents from the sector regulator Electricity Regulatory Authority show that it has licensed 29 electricity generation projects that are at different stages of implementation.

Twenty-four of them are hydro, three are biomass projects, one is wind and one is solar. Together, the renewable energy sources have the capacity to produce 615 MW.

Under the regional interconnections programme, Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (UETCL) is undertaking projects intended to promote power trade and improve security of supply.

These include the construction of a 400Kv line covering 190km from Karuma to Juba, for which UETCL is sourcing funding. Another 220Kv line from Masaka in Uganda to Mwanza in Tanzania, funded by the EAC, is expected to be ready in 2019.

Transmission lines have also been planned from Mpondwe in Uganda to Beni in DRC for a 220kv line. The Norwegian government is funding the feasibility study.

“Under the East African power pool, we will sell about 250MW,” said Eng Mutikanga.