Uganda: Once Regional Power Supplier Turns Into Beggar, What Went Wrong?

Uganda: Once Regional Power Supplier Turns Into Beggar, What Went Wrong?

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By Spy Uganda

On Tuesday, Government of Uganda through the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development-Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu announced that it has started importing electricity from neighboring Kenya something that left many Ugandans wondering how could that be yet Uganda has been the regional power supplier.

In 2019, Kenya had increased its electricity imports from Uganda by 67 per cent on the back of a 50 per cent tariff reduction from Shs787.3 to Shs501.

So What Went Wrong?

According to Nankabirwa, Uganda’s move to import from Kenya followed an emergency shutdown at Isimba dam which was demolished few weeks back following flooding of the power house that houses generators and turbines leaving most parts of the country in a blackout.

“The shutdown was due to operation challenges that led to the flow of water into the powerhouse. The shutdown was undertaken as a safety procedure to ensure safety of staff and protection of electro-mechanical equipment,” said Minister Nankabirwa.

The East African country will purchase 60 megawatts from Kenya and plans to restart an idled 50-megawatt thermal plant in the capital, Kampala, Nankabirwa said in a statement. An additional 20 megawatts will come from Kakira sugar plant, which produces power from cane pulp.

Minister Nankabirwa’s Statement

Giving hope to Ugandans, Nankabira said the operator of the dam, UETCL – Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited is undertaking measures to ensure power production is restored at Isimba but said this will be done in a period of three weeks.

“The Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited(UETCL) ins undertaking measures to ensure continuity of electricity supply including importation of 60 megawatts of power from Kenya,” she noted.

The government-owned Isimba, located about 80 kilometers northeast of Kampala, along the Nile River, was constructed by China International Water and Electric Corp. and started generation in March 2019. The Export-Import Bank of China provided a loan of $482.5 million for the $567.7 million project, according to the Electricity Regulatory Authority.

Uganda has an installed generation capacity of about 1,347 megawatts, 80% of which is from hydropower, while peak demand is about 800 megawatts, according to the regulator.

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