Uganda’s electricity crisis could be averted in the not-so-distant future following the Indian government’s $450 million (about Shs1.1 trillion) credit line pledge to the Ugandan government to construct the Isimba hydropower dam.
Mr Salman Khurshid, Indian Minister for external affairs, said in an interview in Kampala on Thursday, that both governments will have to agree on the steps to be taken by each side to accomplish the 180 megawatt project within the shortest time possible. If constructed, the power dam will be the fourth largest in Uganda. Government already contracted a German firm, Fitchner, to undertake studies on the project.
Mr Eriasi Kiyemba, the managing director at the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company, early this year said the government had approached Exim Bank of India, a state bank, to take up the Isimba power project.
Uganda has lined up a number of big hydropower projects to resolve its electricity dilemma. The 600MW power plant at Karuma and the 600MW Ayago plant that government plans to complete by 2016, with Japanese firms JPower and Nippon Koei carrying out the pre-feasibility studies.
Uganda has the highest power tariffs in East Africa.
High power tarifs
The Sunday Monitor reported early this month that electricity consumers could start experiencing load shedding in six months due to the ever-increasing unmet demand and the cancellation of power dispatches by the two remaining thermal plants, whose combined generation capacity is 100MW.
In Uganda, only 10 per cent of Uganda’s 34 million population have access to electricity. In a meeting with Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa, with his trade, ICT and Agriculture counterparts- Amelia Kyambadde, Ruhakana Rugunda and Trace Buchanayandi, India also agreed to fast track the establishment of the India-Africa Institute of Foreign Trade (IAIFT) in Uganda to develop trade capacities for African countries and an incubation centre for food processing.