By Frank Kamuntu
Mbale: To address present and future growth in demand for stable and reliable electricity in Eastern Uganda, Umeme Limited, Uganda’s largest power distribution company, has invested $ 15.2 million (Shs 55.7 billion) into two major power supply quality and reliability projects in the Mbale Umeme district.
The project that started on 7th May 2020 and scheduled for completion by the end of December 2020, was commissioned yesterday by President Yoweri Museveni hoping to increase Mbale district’s electricity supply by 205% from the current 20 MW to 61 MW.
Mr. Selestino Babungi, the Umeme Managing Director, explained that the $17m (about sh64b) modern substation will now make electricity supply in the eastern region more reliable resulting from the integration of the new transmission 50MW substation at the Mbale Industrial Park.
“Having been granted city status, we expect demand in Mbale City and the surrounding areas to grow considerably fast. Current demand is about 20 MW but the industrial park alone is expected to consume 220 MW of power at full capacity. In addition to the industrial park, there is a cement factory in the pipeline in Mbale,” he said.
He added that the capacity installed will stabilise voltages and quality of supply to industrial customers adding that the upgrading of the substation has now created flexibility in supply from varying sources such as Tororo, Siti 2 and UETCL 132KV Substation.
“The extra capacity provides room for growth in industrial demand from the current 25MW to over 112.5MW,” he observed.
The project has increased the distribution capacity 4.5 times from 25MW to 112.5 MW, through an integration solution. Energy Minister Dr Mary Goretti Kitui said the old substation had maxed up its capacity.
“The challenge came in after the industrial park was established. But now we have supply alternatives such that when one line is off, the affected areas will be fed with the alternative supply lines. Bugisu region will not suffer again with this supply facility,” the minister, said.
Sitting on 619 acres, the Sino- Uganda, Mbale Industrial Park, according to the developers, looks to attract between 60-80 factories, which at peak will consume up to 220 MW of power.
Currently, eight factories have been built in the park, although four are active and use up to 3 MW of power. According to Mr Dary Lee the park’s administrator, the four factories employ 1,500 Ugandans.