President Yoweri Museveni has said that modern re-usable energy is a key driver in developing economies in Africa, adding that with the information age, access to energy is crucial in promoting health and education.
The President was yesterday commissioning the Bugoye power plant in Kanyeminyinga sub-county, Kasese district. The project is a 13-megawatt run-off-river hydropower plant that will produce on average 82 GWh – approximately 7 percent of the total electricity sales in the country. The plant takes water from Mobuku river and its tributary, the Isya river and transports it through a 6-km canal to the fore-bay and penstock.
“Danger to the environment is global pollution by the industrialized countries through the emissions of industrial gasses. In Africa we have three dangers including inadequate supply of electricity which makes people cut trees for firewood. Over 40billion cubic metres of wood is destroyed per annum. To end the use of plants for firewood, we need re-usable energy like electricity. Secondly the primitive agricultural practices that lead peasant populations to attack and destroy forests to plant crops can only be reversed by promoting industrialization so that people can depend on industries and services,” he said.
The President said too many people live in the rural areas and exact pressure on the land. “We need to develop our industries and services in the urban areas so that more people earn their living there and reduce the pressure on the land for agriculture in the rural areas,” he said.
According to the President, in Uganda, like any in other country, every aspect of human development such as health, education, agriculture, industry and infrastructure depends on reliable access to energy. However, energy production in Uganda and Africa in general is unacceptably low. Although not yet exploited, the total hydro-power potential on all the African rivers is about 300,000 megawatts. This potential is not enough to address the electricity needs of the 1.3 billion Africans by 2020 even if all of it is developed.
The President sent a strong message to politicians and environmentalists who opposed the construction of the Bujagali power station in Jinja saying, their opposition forced government to use diesel generators which increase gas emissions thereby hurting the environment even more.
“Uganda would have saved a lot of money and at the same time protected the environment. Fortunately Uganda is back on track to using cheap and clean renewable energy. Our determination is to move forward with the development of the energy sector with or without foreign funding,” he said.
President Museveni commended the Norwegian government for its support to Uganda in rural electrification, generation and transmission of electricity. He said more support was needed in renewable energy.
“This power plant is a small but significant addition to Uganda’s power sector. It has also taken a short time to build and deliver. I hope that other private sectors can learn from this. We look forward to fruitful cooperation with Norway because it is a dependable partner,” he said.
The President warned politicians who sabotage development projects and urged the people to reject them.
“Some people don’t want development. They are just greedy and go to Parliament to get money. Mark those bad ones; you know what to do,” he said.
The Norwegian Minister for Environment and International Development, Hon. Erik Solhein, who represented his country, said without energy, no country can have development, adding that energy is a platform for many industries.
“Without electricity, you can’t have modern agriculture; you can’t study at night or have industries. Hydro-power is one of the best environment friendly energies. Global warming is mainly because of emissions from oil. Norway is ready to partner with Uganda for renewable energy. This is victory for common sense and for the economic,” he said.
Minister Solhein, who was impressed with Uganda’s economic recovery since his last visit here in 1986, said he believes in public private partnerships where the state looks for the market and the private investors do the job to promote a vibrant private sector for development.
Energy and Mineral Development Minister, Hon. Hillary Onek said the Bugoye hydro-power plant brings on line 13 Mega Watts of clean renewable energy at a time when Uganda needs it the most.
“We now have 150MW of thermal power plants and the intention of government is to reduce thermal power to a bare minimum in line with our international commitments towards clean development mechanisms and reduce tariffs to allow the people of Uganda have access to cheap, affordable and reliable electricity,” he said.
According to the Managing Director, Tronder Power Limited, Mr. Gunnar Salseggen, the project capital costs including project development, supervision and social measures, cost over 10 million dollars. Over 372 families have been compensated for land and crops with 33 of these relocated to new sites and new houses built for them.
The project has been supported by the Norwegian Investment Fund for developing countries (Norfund), TronderEnergi, one of the regional power utilities in Norway and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure, a public Private Partnership. The contracting work is being undertaken by NOREMCO from Sweden with offices in the region.