14 August 2013, Kampala – Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has laid a foundation stone at the proposed 600megawatts, MW, Karuma hydropower project. Eng. Simon D’Ujanga, the energy state minister, said it signified the beginning of the construction works of the estimated $1.4b project.
“It is an important milestone not only to the project but also to the people of Uganda,” he said. The ground breaking ceremony follows the award of the contract to build and construct the power station to China’s Sino-Hydropower Corporation.
“Construction of the project is expected to last 4-5 years,” D’Ujanga said. “During the construction phase, local people will get jobs, supply raw materials to the firm and emerging opportunities related to the project,” he said.
The minister added that compensation for the project affected persons has been dealt with “amicably,” calling for “total support for the project.” Eng. Irene Muloni confirmed the development.
Statistics from the Electricity Regulatory Authority, ERA, indicate that peak demand is growing by 15% every year, and there is need to commission at least 50MW every year if Uganda is to avoid undesirable load-shedding.
Already, electricity demand has increased sharply, following the commissioning of the 250MW Bujagali hydropower project, a signal that policy makers should be bringing new projects online to prevent a reversion to load-shedding.
The increased demand is due to intensified investment in industries that heavily rely on electricity and heightened economic activities.
The National Development Plan, NDP, identifies limited generation capacity and corresponding limited transmission and distribution network as key constraints to the performance of the energy sector.
The NDP further cites increasing power generation capacity as the first objective to address this problem and construction of larger hydropower plants as the first intervention strategy.
The current situation of power demand and supply option for Uganda indicates that Karuma hydropower project is a much-needed development as it will add up to 600MW to the national grid.
It will deliver electricity to consumers at an average price of sh300 per unit over five decades. A delay in the project will set the country back.
– New Vision