A delegation from the state of Qatar is in Uganda to explore investment opportunities in the area of energy development.
On Monday, the delegation including Qatari Minister of Energy, Hamad Saadi and Eng. Fahad Ali who is Advisor in the same Ministry of Energy met with Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, Minister of Energy Peter Lokeris and State Minister for Investment Evelyn Anite to discuss the business environment and viability of specific projects.
The visit to Uganda follows bilateral discussions held between President Yoweri Museveni and the Emeri of Qatar on Museveni’s recent state visit to the United Arab Emirates country.
Museveni interested Qatar to consider investing in a number of sectors in Uganda, particularly the Ayago and Bujagali hydro power projects.
“Electricity will be essential if Uganda is to industrialize and modernize by 2020. We want to ensure that everybody gets quality and cheaper power 24 hours abday so that our industrialists do not suffer with load shedding,” Minister Kasaija told the two delegates.
He noted that while Uganda has dealt with the issue of power generation to the extent that for the first time the country has a surplus, the cost remains problematic.
According to Kasaija, government is currently seeking USD 500 million in investment towards Bujagali dam that will be recoverable over a period of 15 years on condition that the power tariffs are lowered to USD 5 cents.
By the year 2040, government targets to generate 21,000 Megawatts of hydro power.
“By the time Bujagali came in, we were short of power so we were forced by circumstances then to enter a consortium of lenders. But the money borrowed was expensive and the period of payment was short.”
“We’ve been looking for an investor who is willing to come in with cheap money and buy out Bujagali Energy Ltd because we are in talks and they are ready.”
So far, Kasaija said government has already engaged some multilateral financial institutions but no commitment has been made on its part.
Similarly, Minister of Energy, Peter Lokeris stressed that expensive power tariffs affect the cost of production and in effect makes Ugandan products less competitive in the regional and global markets.
Eng. Fahad Ali from the Qatari Ministry of Energy sought that government avails details regarding the progress of transmission infrastructure and its projected time of completion.
He also asked that the Energy Ministry provides timelines of revenue generation, breakeven point and basis.
The delegation was however concerned that none of the six bilateral agreements signed between Uganda and Qatar, including the one on Investment Protection has been ratified yet.
Commenting on the progress of the ratification, Minister Anite told ChimpReports: “We prepared a Cabinet paper to ratify but we are left with the Double Taxation agreement which is likely to be concluded at the end of this month. But it is not something very hard.”
The delegation which arrived in the country on Saturday visited Bujagali power dam and Kibimba rice farm on Sunday and will proceed to Ayago Monday afternoon.
They will then meet with President Museveni at State House Entebbe on Tuesday.