Six of the nine megawatts produced by Kabalega Hydro Power Plant in Hoima District are not being utilised because the transmission network currently in place cannot carry the whole load. This is because the government has not upgraded the 132-kilovolt Hoima-Nkenda transmission line to 220kv, leaving power consumers in the area having to contend with more power outages.
This comes less than a year after President Museveni commissioned the power station on Wambabya river. The Energy ministry acknowledges, “the existing transmission infrastructure is inadequate…” but says it will not lead to outages in Hoima, Fort Portal and Kasese districts, which surround the hydro power plant. However, Mr Stephen Mukitale, the Buliisa MP, says: “It has caused poor electricity delivery.”
Besides upgrading the transmission line, the government will have to upgrade the Nkenda, Fort Portal and Hoima substations to handle Kabalega’s whole nine megawatts. The transmission line would also be used to transmit power from the heavy fuel oil sub-stations of Kabaale (50MW), Muzizi (40MW) and Kinyara Sugar Ltd plant (five megawatts) on to the national grid.
The government needs an estimated $96.3 million (about Shs250 billion) for all this. To that effect, Norway has offered a grant of $53.7 million (about Shs136b) whereas French Development Agency will lend Uganda $23.7 million (about Shs60b) at an interest rate of 1.9 per cent, repayable over 20 years.
But the government will have to raise the balance of $19.6 million (Shs50.96 billion). The money might be got from the $600 million Energy Fund. The delay in upgrading the Hoima-Nkenda transmission line is attributed to the decision by Uganda’s development partners to freeze direct financial aid in the last quarter of 2012 because officials in the Office of the Prime Minister had misappropriated funds meant for the Peace, Recovery Development Plan.