16 April 2012 – Bujagali Energy Limited (BEL), the owner and operator of the Bujagali hydroelectric power plant says the hydroelectric power station’s first 50MW unit has been delivering power reliably to the national grid for transmission and distribution to the Ugandan public since 22nd February 2012.
Responding to the government of Uganda’s request for a unit by unit commissioning of the plant to replace expensive thermal generation at the earliest date and minimise load-shedding, BEL has commissioned the first of the five generating units well in advance of the target commercial operations date of 24th June 2012. A full commissioning of all five units is on track for mid-year. When all five units are commissioned the 250 MW facility will increase Uganda’s installed generation capacity by about 50%.
The 50 MW capacity generated by Bujagali’s first unit is reducing the extent of load-shedding that was estimated at between 120 MW to 170 MW depending on time of day or has replaced emergency generation which costs US$9 million a month.
Construction of the US$860 million Bujagali hydroelectric power plant on the Nile River, eight kilometres downstream from Lake Victoria, began in 2007. The project is being developed by BEL, a company co-owned by Sithe Global, a company majority owned by funds managed by Blackstone, and Industrial Promotion Services (IPS), which is the infrastructure and industrial development arm of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, in partnership with the government of Uganda.
The Bujagali project is believed to be the largest privately financed hydropower project in Africa. The lenders for the project are the International Finance Corporation (IFC),the European Investment Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB), Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelinsslanden (FMO), Societe de Promotion et de Participation pour la Cooperation Economique (Proparco)/Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD), DEG-Deutsche Investitions-und Entwicklungsgesellschaft MBH (DEG) and KfW. Barclays/ABSA Capital and Standard Chartered Bank are providing commercial debt under an International Development Association (IDA) partial risk Guarantee, while MIGA will provide insurance guarantee cover for Sithe Global’s equity.