An aerial view of
the Bujagali hydro
-power project
 
Kampala, Uganda — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 20 May 2011 – Uganda’s electricity generation capacity will expand by 30% this year, triggered by significant increases in investment into the power sector, an industry executive told Reuters in an interview.

“We’ve really seen a quantum leap in the levels of investment, and purely by private players,” said Benon Mutambi, acting CEO of the Uganda Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA). “This has been because of the consistency of our liberal economic policy and good pricing that guarantees reasonable profits for these investors,” he said.

“Uganda will be generating an estimated 747MW by the end of 2011, compared with last year’s 576 MW, Mutambi revealed. “We have a total of six projects in the pipeline that are due to come online this year, and together they will add about 71MW to the grid,” he told Reuters.

President Yoweri Museveni has said he intends to resolve the problem of unreliable and chronic power supply deficits as a step towards advancing Uganda to become a middle income country by 2015.

Uganda’s energy sector was hit in 2006 when drought in the region lowered the River Nile’s waters which feed its main Owen Falls hydro-electric dam in Jinja. The plant’s 380MW power output was cut by half and the crisis triggered crippling outages in the country. This spurred on the government to seek investors into the sector, especially into thermal power plants due to the quick set -up times.

Mutambi said when the 250MW Bujagali hydropower dam started operating in April next year it would allow Uganda to decommission two thermal power plants that he pointed out used expensive fuel and translated to higher consumer tariffs.

“By November this year we expect 100MW from Bujagali to be commissioned, but the deadline for the entire plant to come online is April next year,” he explained.

“A total of about US$90 million is being invested in the projects to be completed this year excluding Bujagali,” Mutambi said. “Bujagali “’ which is one of the region’s biggest power projects “’ will cost about US$860 million.