Nile diverted through Bujagali powerhouse

Tuesday April 12 2011

An aerial view of the Bujagali project and the Nile. INSET: Board members of Bujagali Energy Limited led by the chairman Mr Nazir Juma (L), touring. It will open in  April 2012, not 2013 as erroneously reported yesterday.

An aerial view of the Bujagali project and the Nile. INSET: Board members of Bujagali Energy Limited led by the chairman Mr Nazir Juma (L), touring. It will open in April 2012, not 2013 as erroneously reported yesterday. COURTESY PHOTOS 

By Daily Monitor Reporter

As the final countdown to the completion of the Bujagali Hydropower Project gathers pace, engineers diverted the River Nile to flow in its original left channel and through the gated spillway which is part of the newly constructed powerhouse super structure.

The significant milestone, which paves way for the completion of the final civil structure for the 250MW power project, an earth dam connecting and the eastern bank of the river, was achieved earlier today when Salini and BEL engineers supervised the breaching of the upstream coffer dam that previously diverted the river entirely to the eastern channel to allow the powerhouse structure and central dam to be constructed.

The left channel had been dewatered since September 2007 to allow for the construction of the powerhouse, gated spillway and the west and central embankment dams. The powerhouse superstructure comprises of the powerhouse has five units each capable of producing 50MW, control room, gates and other mechanical plant, among other plant and equipment.

Speaking while on a recent tour of the project, Bujagali Energy Limited Board Chairman Mr. Nizar Juma marveled at the splendour of the Bujagali structures and indicated that the project sponsors were highly impressed by the progress of the project which was on schedule to allow Uganda and the region to start enjoying the benefits of adequate, reliable and affordable electricity.

“I would also like to commend the Government of Uganda and in particular the Ministry of Energy and Mineral for the support it has accorded the project”. This aptly demonstrates the potential to a country’s economic development that well managed private public partnerships can indeed contribute” he said, and further observed that upon commissioning of Bujagali the era of load-shedding would be consigned to history.

Works on eastern embankment, which will connect the central dam and the eastern bank of the river, are 30% complete and will be concluded by August 2011, thereby paving the way for the filling of the created reservoir and subsequently commissioning of the first unit generation of 50MW in October of this year. The full commissioning of the 250MW is scheduled for April 2012.

Mr. Bruce Wrobel Sithe Global’s President/CEO and a director of BEL was delighted that his company was proud to be part of a project that would transform the lives of millions of Ugandans by providing them affordable electricity that would allow them to exploit their potential to the fullest. “Bujagali will not only support industrial development but will also ensure that rural households have access to affordable electricity and many other services that depend on power”.

Noting that the project’s civil works are now 95% percent complete, the Project Director, Mr. Glenn Gaydar, indicated that focus has now shifted to installation, testing and commissioning of electro-mechanical equipment, with the inauguration of the first 50MW unit in October as the priority target.

He also appreciated UETCL and Eskom support that had facilitated the seamless achievement of today’s milestone, i.e. diversion of the river through the gates in the powerhouse structure.. Bujagali will provide much needed generation capacity to meet the Uganda’s electricity needs including, releasing suppressed demand in the system, cater for organic growth in power demand, replace expensive thermal generation and overcome on-going load-shedding.

Bujagali will therefore restore the competitiveness of the Uganda economy by creating jobs, reducing poverty and improving the quality of life. In so doing Bujagali will become an integral part of the country’s social and economic development.

About Bujagali Energy Limited (BEL)
BEL is a special purpose company, co-owned by the Industrial Promotion Services (K) (“IPS”), an affiliate of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (“AKFED”), Sithe Global Power, LLC (“Sithe”) an affiliate of the Blackstone Group and the Government of Uganda.

BEL will own and operate the US$860m Bujagali Hydroelectric Power plant for the 30 year concession period before eventually transferring the plant to the Government of Uganda for US$1.00.

Lenders to the project comprise the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Investment Bank (EIB), DEG & Germany’s development bank (KfW), Proparco & the development bank of France (AFD) and the Netherlands Development Finance Company (FMO).

Barclays/ABSA Capital and Standard Chartered Bank are providing commercial debt finance under IDA Partial Risk Guarantee while MIGA is providing insurance guarantee cover to the Sithe Global equity.