Kampala, Uganda — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 14 December 2011 – Uganda’s Directorate of Water Resources Management has cleared South African national power utility Eskom Holdings to make use of water from Lake Victoria for power generation.
“The directorate allowed Eskom to discharge 1,000 cubic metres of water per second in order to generate power of at least 50MW,” said Mugisha Shilingi, the director of water resources management.
In a letter to energy minister Irene Muloni, President Museveni reportedly wrote: “I am directing you to increase the release of water at Jinja to 1,000 cubic metres per second until November 2011. If there are any problems with the Eastern region, I will handle them.”
But Shilingi said the technical implication of the development meant the water level would go down. The President’s directive could put Uganda at loggerheads with Kenya and Tanzania, who use the lake for cheap inland transportation of bulky goods, and are, therefore, mindful of its level.
He cautioned that although the rainfall between September and November had contributed to the rise of the lake’s level to 11.75m, power consumers should prepare for the worst. “Now the dry period has started and it will go on until March 2012. It is the same water that had been stored during the rainy period that will be used to generate power. That is why we are calling for the reduction of the discharge,” he pointed out.
Shilingi said Lake Victoria’s level had in the past reduced due to lack of control, and not drought. Committee chairperson Jacob Oboth said drought had long been used as an excuse for the energy crisis Uganda has been experiencing since 2005.
Shilingi recommended that the government complied with technical advice for current water discharge, which should be 800 cubic metres per second.