Karuma Dam 30 Percent Complete: Energy Official

Karuma Hydropower Project is located in Kiryandongo district

By Diana Taremwa Karakire

Every night, cialis 40mg less than half of Uganda’s population experiences darkness when the sun goes down.

While this may not be experienced in urban areas, it is often a part of the everyday lives of people in rural areas.

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Their only source of light often comes from lamps that use kerosene, a fuel that is dangerous, dirty and expensive.

Their immediate environment is often filled with smoke and fire, making it difficult for them to enjoy their basic right to a clean and healthy environment.

Most of these are mothers and their young children because they are the main energy users in the home. They continue to be robbed of the dignity and opportunity that comes with access to modern energy.

According to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, electricity access is at 16 percent nationwide and only 7 percent in rural areas.

This situation is what has given rise to solar entrepreneurs across the country. Driven by the gap- limited electricity infrastructure, the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, availability of the sun and the social need to bring many energy poor rural folks out of the dark and improve livelihoods.

Solar entrepreneurs are changing lives and bringing hope to rural dwellers while creating employment opportunities for many youth entrepreneurs in addition to climate change mitigation.

One company, lighting up swathes of rural Ugandans is Solar Now, a Kampala based firm that has over the past five years connected more than 10,000 rural households with electricity.

The company offers a range of high-quality solar home systems that are designed to fit the needs of low income rural households and small entrepreneurs

Another is Solar Sisters, a social enterprise that uses innovative sales model to distribute solar equipment to rural women.

Over the past five years, the organization has connected more than 200,000 people with electricity.

Grace Wakodo, a Solar Sisters entrepreneur, has doubled the family’s income and helps pay school fees for her children.


“The children are very happy” she says “They no longer have to struggle for light to do their homework”.

These companies have found innovative ways to make these solar systems affordable to the rural low income earners.

M-Kopa Solar a Nairobi based firm has so far connected more than 250,000 homes in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, with the hope of reaching one million customers by 2018.

Recently, a 10 MW utility-scale solar farm was launched in Soroti district. Once connected, the solar plant will provide clean electricity to 40,000 local households.

The $19 million solar project is financed by a consortium of European clean energy companies and African development specialists Access Energy Group.

The need for increased access to clean and affordable energy is evident not only in Uganda but across the region.

The International Energy Agency IEA estimates that 580 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack modern energy with the electrification rate as low as 14.2% in rural areas.

This makes the region a big market for investments in alternative sources of power especially solar.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC’s Green Climate Fund recently allocated $20 million to  KawiSafi Ventures Fund  to be invested in solar businesses in East Africa.

These businesses will sell solar lanterns, solar home systems and solar mini-grids, allowing communities in Rwanda and Kenya to choose cleaner, cheaper options than kerosene lamps or diesel generators. Such initiatives are a good start in solving the regions energy challenge.

According to a WWF report released last year, Uganda could attain universal renewable energy coverage by 2050 because the country is endowed with immense potential of energy sources such as wind, biomass and the sun amounting to over 5300 mw.

Government needs to take advantage of financing mechanisms such as the green climate fund in order to spur development of the country’s abundant clean energy sources and contribute to the realization of the Paris global climate deal.

Climate tracker -Uganda

Programme Assistant Africa institute for Energy Governance
The overall construction progress of the Karuma Hydropower Project is on schedule, thumb Dr Fred Kagambe-Kaliisa the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, order has disclosed.

He assessed during an on-spot field inspection of both Karuma and Isimba Hydropower Projects to understand the progress and assess where they are against the targets set and challenges faced during construction last week (23 -14 February 2016).

Kabagambe-Kaliisa said construction work is in the range of 27 – 30 percent complete in terms of civil works completion, indicating that significant progress has been made in other critical aspects such as excavation of the powerhouse.

“The powerhouse excavation is near completion. That is the most important aspects of the construction of underground power systems and stations like Karuma,” Kabagambe-Kaliisa assessed.

The Permanent Secretary said the project is “a very benign project because it does not interfere with what is going on in the (Wildlife) Park Area.”

Karuma Hydropower Project is located in Kiryandongo district, which is also partly home of Karuma Wildlife Reserve and is planned to produce 600 megawatts of electricity.

The project is developed by the Ministry Energy and Mineral Development representing the Government of the Republic of Uganda through a bilateral agreement with the Peoples Republic of China. M/S Sinohydro Corporation is the project contractor.

Kabagambe-Kaliisa revealed that part of the project area will be gazetted as an industrial park so that power is consumed directly instead of transmitting it to distant areas.

“We are going to ensure there is good physical planning for Karuma area for factories, offices and residential areas,” he said.

Karuma Hydropower Project will also improve community services such as clean water supply, improved education and health facilities in nearby villages, and enhanced road infrastructure, Kagagambe-Kaliisa said.

“We are now starting to develop those amenities such as schools, churches and mosques and heath facilities,” he added.

Cost of power

“This project is also going to build two hospitals. That is going to have a very good impact on the project.

Karuma Hydropower Project, when commissioned in December 2018, is expected to lower the base cost of electricity and ensure adequate power supply in Uganda.

Kabagambe-Kaliisa explained that the generation cost of electricity would reduce because of the competitive cost of capital, lower interest rates and timely completion of the project, playing an important catalyst for accelerated social and economic development.

“This Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract was competitively bid for at a cost of $1.4b. The original cost in the feasibility study had put the capital cost at $2b.  The cost of lending was also very competitive,” he reflected.

Dr Kabagambe-Kaliisa said the decision of government to borrow money and invest in the project has also helped reduce the interest rates that would be paid back.

“The cost of borrowing for Karuma project is 3 percent. This is low compared to a weighted average capital of 13 – 15 percent if the money is from private capital,” he assessed, adding that completing the project on time would also bring down the cost of electricity in Uganda.

“We are very optimistic that we shall complete the projects in on time. Once the project is not delayed but progresses as scheduled, then the electricity tariffs can be controlled.”



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