Uganda and Tanzania are developing a $87.7 million power project that is expected to boost electricity supply and increase economic activity in the two countries.
On Thursday, President Yoweri Museveni and Tanzania’s Samia Suluhu commissioned a 16MW cross-border hydropower plant developed by independent power producer, Kikagati Power Company Ltd, on River Kagera.
The plant is located in the Isingiro district of Uganda, which shares a border with the Kagera region of Tanzania, an area with the lowest power connectivity, in the region. The project paves the way for increased economic activity in the border region, creates jobs, and gives access to electricity to more than 815,000 people.
Power is priced at $8.5 cents per kilowatt hour, which President Museveni said should be lowered to make business sense, noting that cheap power encourages investment and development.
“If Tanzania wants all 16MW from Kikagati, they should take it. I have no problem whatsoever with exporting our electricity to neighbours that want to pay for it,” said the President. The project comes with emotional capital for President Museveni.
“No other Tanzanian president has been here. I was born in this part...I have grazed cows here and also fought battles here. My camp is behind that hill in Isingiro District,” Museveni said as he appreciated the presence of the Tanzanian leader, who said her country and Uganda have historical and fraternal relations which continue to improve.
He further said electricity helps in steering development across the East Africa region, but people get selfish when they start arguing on who takes what share of electricity.
“I’m not part of this argument of who takes more power; if Tanzania needs the power more, they can take it because they will not take it free. What is the problem? So, if they wanted two megawatts originally and now, they want four, I will grant them. If they want all 16 megawatts, they can as well take it but they will to pay.” he said.
Museveni and his Tanzanian counterpart Samia Suluhu Hassan commissioned the Kikagati-Murongo Hydropower Plant in Isingiro District on May 25, 2023. The 14 Megawatts cross-border dam is located on the Kagera River, the largest tributary of Lake Victoria, which serves as the natural border between Tanzania and Uganda.
Museveni said the two countries had failed to utilise the potential of River Kagera for a long time yet there were opportunities to be exploited to develop the two countries, which attracted the government of Rwanda in a similar project.
This is one of the first cross-border huge infrastructural projects between Uganda and Tanzania.
“It’s good that we’re beginning to utilise the potential of the Kagera River,” Museveni said, adding: “The 11 miles downstream from the location is Nshungezi where there are 38 megawatts to benefit Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.”
Uganda exports electricity to Kenya, Tanzania, the DRC, and South Sudan. Between June 2020 and June 2021, the country exported 294.1MW, earning $26.84 million, according to a Bank of Uganda report.
Last year, Samia and Museveni committed to develop the 400kV transmission line linking their countries in an MoU signed by Uganda’s Minister for International Affairs Henry Okello Oryem and Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Co-operation Liberata Mulamula in Uganda.
According to Global Transmission Report, Tanzania’s electricity demand is growing at an annual rate of 13.82 percent, and will outstrip the country’s installed capacity. The report says the country’s power needs are expected to rise from about 10,176GWh today to 28,663GWh in seven years.
Uganda exports electricity to Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan, and between June 2020 and June 2021, the country exported 294.1MW, earning $26.84 million, according to a Bank of Uganda report.
Tanzania also expects an additional 20MW from the regional Rusumo Falls hydroelectric project, whose completion has reached the final stages. A tripartite agreement gives Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi equal share of the power generated – 20MW each.
Ntare Karitanyi, managing director of Rusumo Power Company Ltd, a special purpose vehicle formed by the three countries, earlier told The EastAfrican that the dam has an installed capacity of 80MW.
“We are pushing very hard, the contractors to complete all three units soon,” Mr Karitanyi recently told The EastAfrican.