HomeRegional NewsEast AfricaPower boosts Uganda's economy

Power boosts Uganda’s economy


Frank Sebbowa, the
Electricity Regulatory

25 May 2010 – Over the past five years, Uganda has almost doubled power output in order to keep up with increasing demand.

Uganda now produces some 519MW, up from 265MW previously.

"Investments in the sector have increased, attracting local and international players because there is transparency," Frank Sebbowa, the Electricity Regulatory Authority, said.

Uganda’s approach to tackling electricity demand has gone from one of ‘chasing’ demand to one of approaching it head on by attracting local, foreign, public and private investment.

New power plants have been installed in Tororo, Namanve and Mutundwe in Kampala. Additional hydro generation capacity of 480MW is available at Jinja and there are plans for power generation from small hydro-power plants is in the pipeline.

While some of the projects are near completion, others are awaiting commissioning. Uganda relies on hydro-energy to meet 90% of its electricity needs, but drought has cut capacity at the main power dams in Jinja.

However, due to the change in strategy, the country hopes to increase power generation from other renewable sources. Sugar companies, Kakira and Kinyara, are producing electricity from cane wastes.

"There has been increased search for alternative sources of energy, including utilising the mini-hydro stations, generation from bagasse, garbage and solar-thermal projects," Sebbowa said.

"The reforms have yielded positive results like increased access to electricity. This transforms into better standards of living." However, there is still a need to migrate from diesel power generation to heavy fuel oil in the short-to-medium-term to reduce power prices.

"There is need to quickly harness our local oil resources to get cheaper heavy fuel oil," the regulator observed. "We must also address system losses and reduce tariffs through re-negotiating of the allowed losses."