Power supply in the Bugisu sub-region is expected to stabilise after President Museveni launched an upgraded 50 megawatts Mbale substation near Bugema.
The region, which hosts Mbale City, one of Uganda’s most commercial centres, had previously been supplied by two lines from Tororo with maximum capacity of 25 megawatts.
The $17m (Sh64b) substation is expected to make electricity supply in eastern region more reliable resulting from the integration of the new transmission 50 megawatts substation at the Mbale Industrial Park.
Mr Selestino Babungi, the Umeme managing director, said the substation has been installed with capacity banks and stabilised voltage to efficiently supply to industrial customers, noting it will also create flexibility to tap supply from other sources such as Tororo, Siti 2 and the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited 132 kilovolt substation.
“The extra capacity provides room for growth in industrial demand from the current 25MW to more than 112.5MW,” he said, adding that the boost in supply has warranted the opening up of four zonal offices in Pallisa, Sironko, Kumi and Kapchorwa.
Reliable electricity, Mr Babungi said is a core ingredient in the drive to industrialisation, economic transformation, job creation and improvement of household incomes.
The Bugisu sub-region, just like others has been struggling with constrained and unreliable electricity supply, which has in effect affected the social economic development of such area.
The region has experienced some growth over the last 10 years boosted by a number of industries such as Uganda Clays and coffee processors in addition to the Mbale Industrial Park, which has seen rapid growth in demand for stable and reliable electricity supply.
Energy Minister Mary Goretti Kitutu said the old substation had maxed up its capacity after establishment of an industrial park in the region.
“Now we have supply alternatives such that when one line is off, the affected areas will be fed with the alternative supply lines. Bugisu region will not suffer again with this supply facility,” the minister,” she said.
Industrial park factor
The Mbale Industrial Park, which is part of government’s agenda to push industrialisation, has been a big factor increasing electricity demand by large margins. The park is expected to attract between 60 and 80 factories, which at peak will consume up to 220MW of power.
Eight factories have already been built in the park, with the four active ones, using up to 3MW of power.
Government is pushing industrialisation as a guarantee for lower cost of production per unit. The Mbale Industrial park particularly because of its proximity to the Kenyan border and subsequently the Mombasa Port, is strategic for both import substitution and export-based factories.