Uganda switches on last unit of Karuma Dam

Saturday February 10 2024
The downstream tunnel at Uganda’s Karuma dam.

The downstream tunnel at Uganda’s Karuma dam. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Uganda on Tuesday launched the last unit of the six turbines at the Karuma hydro-power plant, according to Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL).

The 600MW dam is located on the Nile River in Kiryandongo district 270km north of Kampala. The first unit of the power plant completed its trial run and grid connection tests on March 21, 2023.

Financed by the Export-Import Bank of China, the dam is critical in meeting the region’s increasing electricity demand in efforts to accelerate industrialisation.

It has been touted as the project that will reverse the high cost of power that is impacting the government’s industrialisation drive as well as increase the country’s capacity to export power, even though it comes with more debt repayment pressure, energy economists say.

Read: Uganda's Karuma dam to generate power from June: govt

The dam is poised to generate power for export to South Sudan, about 180km away, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, about 200km away.


Last year, Uganda and South Sudan signed a Power Sales Agreement for trade in electricity between the two countries. The deal was signed in the South Sudanese capital Juba. The power will be supplied mainly to the towns of Oraba, Elegu, Kaya, and Nimule in South Sudan before extending it to Juba.

“Karuma is going to produce more electricity than we can consume. To get full benefit on the purpose of our borrowing, this power must be exported,” Mr Stephen Mukitale-an energy economist says.

Uganda borrowed 85 percent ($1.44 billion) of the $1.7 billion project cost from China’s Eximbank for the construction of the dam.