Nakaseke. The State Minister of Privatisation and Investment, Ms Evelyn Anite, has opposed a proposal by a South African investor to build a 350-megawatts dam at Murchison Falls, an iconic natural wonder in Uganda’s largest national park.
“I think the issue of Murchison Falls [dam project] is very wrong,” she told journalists at the end of her tour of new factories in Namanve and Kapeeka in Mukono and Nakaseke districts, respectively, on Saturday.
Ms Anite re-stated that position in a follow-up interview with this newspaper last evening, describing the gurgling River Nile water that thunders down through a 43-metres deep gorge, as natural splendour and “cash cow for tourism.”
“I don’t see the logic of constructing a dam and generating electricity there. I agree with the bigger public opinion that we shouldn’t do it and we (government) should not,” she said.
In a June 7 notice, the power regulator, Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), acknowledged receipt of an application by Bonang Power Energy Ltd, a South African energy firm, to build a hydro-dam at Murchison Falls.
“Bonang Power Energy (Pty) Limited intends to undertake detailed feasibility studies and other activities leading to the development of the above mentioned power project whose proposed installed capacity [will be] 360 MW,” the notice read in part.
Its publication sparked outrage from environmentalists and tourism sector participants and prompted an online petition, which more than 8,500 people had signed by last Wednesday, to oppose the proposed dam.
Ms Anite said the intended project’s feasibility study should be abandoned altogether and an interested investor in the energy sector should prospect other undeveloped sites on River Nile or elsewhere, which are not leading tourist magnets. She said these include the one on River Ayago.
The planned dam, if constructed, would generate electricity to feed onto the national grid.
About power company
Bonang Power and Energy (Pty) Ltd, according to its website, was founded by Mr Ernest Moloi, “with intentions of breaking new ground in helping Africa to develop hydropower projects that could bring transformational change to the lives of the sons and daughters of this continent through the provision of sustainable generation of electricity power.”