The Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) on Wednesday flagged off a team of 20 engineers and technicians to the Kafue gorge Regional Training Centre in Zambia for exposure to the latest developments in operations management and engineering technology.
The institution is conceivably the best hydro power training facility in sub-Saharan Africa.
UEGCL Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Eng. Harrison E. Mukitanga, while speaking at send-off at the company head offices in Bukoto, revealed that the initiative is aimed at “equipping our own people with the right skills so that they are able to efficiently operate our power plants.”
With local manpower readily available, Mukitanga explained, the generation of electricity will be cost-effective compared to hiring foreign labor.
“The cost of generation has a big impact on the tariff, so power must be generated at the lowest cost possible,” he said.
The capacity building move comes against the back drop of the government’s desire is to provide affordable and reliable electricity for social economic development through Karuma and Isimba projects.
To help realize the goal of appropriate delivery, within budget and to agreed technical specifications, as UEGCL, Mukitanga noted, they are also “readying to assume the critical function of operation and maintenance.”
He clarified that “building hydro-power stations alone may not be the magic bullet in delivering the much-needed electricity” thus “cognizance has to be given to the operations and maintenance, which is pivotal to the efficient and cost-effective delivery of electricity.”
The group, which was sent to Zambia is composed of eight shift charge engineers, eight shift assistants plus four operation and maintenance managers.
The shift charge engineers and shift assistant will train for 10 weeks, and the managers, 2 weeks.
They will receive all-round training which includes fully understanding the power system business, operations and effective maintenance.
The training program, which will cost USD200,000 is fully sponsored by UEGCL in partnership with the Association of Power Utilities of Africa (APUA), who contributed USD150,000.
Dr. Mukitanga also disclosed that they were in discussions with development partners to set up a training and vocational center which provide for both local and regional training of engineers.
The training Centre, he added, would help in capacity building for over 20 independent power producers in Uganda, which are not able to tap into donations.
UEGCL is the government implementing agency for the flagship hydropower projects of Karuma (600MW) and Isimba (183MW).
The two projects, now over 60 percent complete, are scheduled for commissioning at end of 2018.
Others in line of development include Ayago (800MW) Muzizi (44.7MW) and Nyagak III (5.5MW).