Expansion of Energy Generation puts Country on further Growth Path

Uganda increased electricity generation to fight load shedding, but the move has also fostered economic growth. Ibrahim Kasita looks at how far the country has come and the future of power supply in Uganda: Uganda’s strategic plan to meet the electricity needs is yielding dividends as consumption patterns doubled in just a year, confirming that the country is in the growth path. Electricity consumption measured in kilowatt hour (kWh) per capita was 70kWh per capita in 2012. However, a year after Bujagali hydropower station was switched on, the national grid consumption went up to 150kWh per capita. The consumption pattern is in the range of Kenya, which is East Africa’s largest economy. Electricity consumption is measured in kWh per capita, indicating a country’s economic development.

“This positive trend means that we are moving towards modernisation. Electricity is engine for social and economic development,” said Kabagambe Kaliisa, the permanent secretary in the ministry of energy. In the period 2003-2007, poor hydrology due to prolonged drought and lack of new generation plants to match the demand conspired to constraint the supply of electricity. Uganda’s economic growth drastically slumped to 1.5% from the average 8% per annum as the limited electricity was produced using expensive thermal plants.

h3. Strategic Plan

However, the energy ministry in 2006 prepared a plan to meet the shortfall in electricity supply in the short, medium and long term. The broad objective was not only to provide adequate and reliable power supply, but to also anticipate new electricity demand ahead instead of the old approach of chasing demand forecasts. The short-term measures involved procurement of thermal generation to provide temporary relief, improve demand side efficiency and conduct audits in various industries, commercial buildings and industries. The medium-term strategy included the development of the 250MW Bujagali hydropower project and to promote the construction of small hydropower plants peppered around the country.
The long-term measure was to fast-track the construction of the 600MW Karuma hydropower project, the 183MW Isimba hydropower project, as well as the development of 650MW Ayago hydropower project. Other large hydropower project online are Koriang, Kiba and Ayago South, with potential to produce a total of about 2000MW.

h3. Results

The Bujagali project was completed last year and has increased electricity supply. In the same year, a series of small hydropower plants sprung up and supplied electricity to the national grid. These included 3.5MW Nyagak , 18MW Mpanga, the 13MW Bugoye small hydropower station, 6.5MW, Ishasha, 5MW Mubuku and 9MW Buseruka. The projects have spurred economic growth and considerably improved the lives of the population. Effectively, load-shedding has been wiped out.

Consumption pattern has increased to 150kWh per capita from 70 kWh per capita just in one year. “Industrial demand now is growing fast as a result of expanded power system in the country,” Kaliisa observed. The permanent secretary shared demand growth data. He said Roofings, which used to consume only 7MW, now consumes 43MW. Roofings Group has also just commissioned the second steel factory in Namanve. Its production capacity has more than doubled to 350,000 metric tonnes per annum from 160,000. Nile Breweries has expanded. Apart from its old beer factory in Jinja, the firm has commissioned a new state-of-the art brewery in Mbarara with initial capacity to produce 650,000hectoliters of beer per annum, but expandable to 1.8 million hectoliters.

The production capacity of the- Nile Breweries now stands at 2.4 million hectoliters, making it the leading provider of locally-produced beer in Uganda. Tororo Cement demand has also gone up to 15MW, from 10MW. Hima Cement now consumes 18MW, from 12MW. Similarly, Tembo Steel is using 18MW, from 12MW and Tian Tang Steels is now consuming 8MW, from 5MW. Nile Breweries has doubled electricity demand to 10MW, from 5MW. Likewise, Steel Rolling Mills has doubled its demand to 10MW, from 5MW.

New factories, according to Kaliisa, have also increased demand for energy. They include the East African Steel Coporation, which demands 15MW, Adilisha Steel 5MW and Yogi Steel Mills 15MW. “We have created an environment where industries expand as a result of increased power generation. This creates new jobs and more revenues,” Kaliisa noted. Many more factories have opened because of the increased power supply, creating more jobs for Ugandans

h3. Electricity Access

Access to electricity for a long time has been constrained by supply. By the year 2001, rural electrification was at dismal 1% and overall access to electricity (rural and urban) covered only 5%. But the trend has improved. Village connections to electricity have gone up to 7% and the national electricity coverage is now at 15%, Kaliisa disclosed. Over the last six years, a total of 502 grid extension project have been implemented and completed. A total of 5,192kms of medium voltage network and 2790kms of low voltage network were constructed. There are plans to construct 3,670kms of medium voltage network and 1,240kms of low voltage network expected to be commissioned this financial year.

The procurement process of 1,239kms of medium voltage lines and 821kms low voltage networks has been completed and construction is expected to start this year in across the country. Ayago, Isimba and Karuma to produce more energy, Kaliisa explained that with the implementation and completion of the Ayago, Isimba and Karuma projects, Uganda’s consumption pattern will increase up to 600kWh per capital. “This will put us in a scale of India. As we progress with other large hydropower projects, consumption pattern will be 3,800kWh per capita. This is in line with what Malaysia consumes today,” he forecasted. The three hydropower projects will be developed and financed by China’s EXIM Bank.

* The proposed 650MW Ayago hydropower project will be developed by China’s Gezhouba,
* The proposed 183MW Isimba hydropower plant will be built by China’s International Water and Electricity Corporation.
* The proposed 600MW Karuma hydropower project will be developed by Sino-Hydro Electric and Engineering Corporation.

The energy ministry has formulated a strategic plan and energy policy for transforming the power sector into a financially-viable electricity industry. “We are on track of ensuring that there is access of reliable and affordable electricity,” Kaliisa said.

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