Museveni, Suluhu commission 14MW power plant in Isingiro

An aerial view of the Kikagate-Murongo Hydro power project in Isingiro District on May 25, 2023. PHOTO/PPU

What you need to know:

  • The $100m power project was constructed under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement between the two countries.

President Museveni and his Tanzanian counterpart Samia Suluhu yesterday commissioned the 14 Megawatt Kikagate-Murongo Hydro power project that is expected to bolster development between the two countries.

The $100m power project was constructed by the Berkeley Energy company under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement between the two sister countries.

While commissioning the project that was powered on in Isingiro District yesterday, Mr Museveni tasked African leaders and technocrats to stop being self-centered, saying this sabotages progression of the continent.

“Political and bureaucratic classes of Africa must wake up or be overtaken by the determined people who want development. The potential for development is there but most times these people are in arguments,” he said.

Kikagati-Murongo is located along the Kagera River at the border of Uganda and Tanzania.

The project that started in 2017 will benefit 60,000 homes in the two countries as Berkeley collects tariffs for the next 20 years before handing over the facility for further management by the two governments.

Mr Museveni said the project should have started in 2005 but the two countries could not agree on how the electricity would be shared among themselves.

He further said electricity helps in steering development across the East Africa region but people get selfish when they start arguing on who takes what share of electricity.

“I’m not part of this argument of who takes more power; if Tanzania needs the power more, they take it because they will not take it free. What is the problem? So if they wanted two megawatts originally, now they want four, I grant them from here now. If they want all 16 megawatts, they can take but they will pay. What is the problem?” he said.

President Museveni and his Tanzanian counterpart Samia Suluhu Hassan after commissioning the Kikagati-Murongo Hydropower Plant in Isingiro District on May 25, 2023. The 14 Megawatts cross-border dam is located on the Kagera River, the largest tributary of Lake Victoria, which serves as the natural border between Tanzania and Uganda. PHOTO/FELIX AINEBYOONA

Mr Museveni said the two countries had failed to utilise the potential of River Kagera for a long time yet there were opportunities to be exploited to develop the two countries, which attracted the government of Rwanda in a similar project.

This is one of the first cross-border huge infrastructural projects between Uganda and Tanzania.

“It’s good that we’re beginning to utilise the potential of the Kagera River,” Mr Museveni said, adding: “The 11 miles downstream from the location is Nshungezi where there are 38 megawatts to benefit Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania.” He added: “It’s a big honour to have President Samia Suluhu Hassan come here for the first time in this area. You have been to other parts of Uganda, but you hadn’t come here. We are very lucky, and I welcome you here.”

The plant will sell its power to the national grid and consumers will pay US Cents 8.5 per kilowatt hour for the electricity generated. The cost, according to President Museveni, is too high if it’s to serve the intended purpose and implored the developers to make it cheaper for people.

“This price of 8.5 cents per unit is not a Christian idea because we’re insisting that power especially for manufacturing should be about 5 cents,” Mr Museveni said, mentioning dams such as Karuma and Isimba where the production cost is 4.8 cents per unit and Bujagaali which started at 13 cents and has now come to 8.3 cents per unit.

In her remarks, President Suluhu was optimistic that the project will improve the historical relations and the bi-lateral trade between the two countries.

“I’m always happy to note that our historical fraternal relations continue to improve day by day and of course, there is wider room to further make improvements of our relationship and cooperation particularly in areas of trade and investment as well as cultural and social engagements,” she said.

She also applauded Mr Museveni’s vision of kick-starting the construction of a hydro power dam in Isingiro, which on completion, will contribute to the economic growth of the two countries.
“I must say that the power generated here shall improve a lot of things. It is going to improve trade and investment in this region. It’s going to improve transportation of people and goods, social services, sound health services, contemporary teaching modalities are going to be done here, because power is here,” he said.

She said her government is committed to strengthening and deepening brotherly friendship and cooperation with Uganda.