8 January 2008 – Construction of the Karuma hydropower dam, located downstream from Bujagali, will begin in 2009, Uganda’s junior energy minister, Simon D’ujanga told reporters this week.
This was confirmed in President Museveni’s New Year’s statement, in which he reports having instructed the ministries of finance and energy "to commence with fast-track developments of the Karuma hydropower project in 2008."
Engineering designs for the project have already been completed and efforts were now being made to secure finance for the construction.
A public/private venture between the government of Uganda and Norwegian company, Norpark, the dam is estimated to cost $450 million and will have an installed capacity of 250MW.
Mr D’ujanga assured reporters that Karuma would not be subject to the same delays as Bujagali (which took four years to secure funding and manoeuvre the bureaucratic processes). One of the factors in Karuma’s favour is less costly construction estimates.
"Karuma is different and we’re sure work will start next year because already we have some money," he said, confirming that $100 million was already available from government for the dam.
"The completion of these two projects [Karuma and Bujagali] is a key objective towards the immediate industrialisation and transformation of the Uganda economy," said Mr Museveni in his New Year statement.
"Improved efficiency measures, like; the use of solar photovoltaic and solar water heaters; biogas and production of electricity from municipal waste for sale of power into the grid will be enhanced," he continued.
Several other hydro projects are under development across Uganda. The country generates a total of 240MW, with a demand of 350MW. Demand for electricity is estimated to be growing at 30 % a year.