Uganda needs additional US$1.2bn investment into power sector –UMEME MD

Kenneth Kazibwe

Kenneth Kazibwe

, News

The UMEME Managing Director, Selestino Babungi has said there is need for a 1.2 billion US dollar investment into the Ugandan power sector to cope with the upcoming two mega power plants, Karuma and Isimba that will soon be completed.

When completed, Isimba and Karuma dams are expected to produce 183 megawatts and 600 megawatts respectively and according to government, this power will be enough to serve the entire country.

However according to Babungi, this would need a heavy investment to a tune of US$1.2 billion into the power sector so as to increase access to electricity from these new power stations.

“W shall see an increase of over 700 megawatts and this would automatically call for an investment into the sector in relation to the need for consumption at stake,”Babungi said during a media breakfast at Golden Tulip hotel in Kampala on Thursday.

“The number of people accessing electricity will increase when the two power plants start functioning and so this calls for investment in transmission lines, service stations and transformers among other things that need to be invested into.”

He said that the country has over 40,000 power lines but said these would need to increase with the completion of the new power plants so as to be able to serve the growing needs for power. The UMEME Managing Director however noted that with the completion of the two power plants, Ugandans should create a platform to be able to consume the extra baggage of electricity generated. He explained that seventy percent of the power generated currently is consumed by industries adding that there is need to increase the consumption by creation of more industrial parks which would translate into consumption of the more 700 megawatts to be added onto the grid after the completion of the two plants.

“We need to increase the industrial base at least by seventy percent so as to create a platform to consume the coming 700 megawatts of electricity,”Babungi said.

100 Billion lost every year

The UMEME Chief Operations Officer, Florence Nsubuga revealed that Uganda losses over one billion shillings every year due to power thefts in various parts of the country. She explained that power losses have tremendously reduced from thirty eight percent in 2005 to seventeen percent currently but warned power theft is still having a great impact on the economy.

“On average, we lose one hundred billion shillings per year due to power theft and vandalism. The power thefts also have far reaching consequences like deaths, power outages and the subsequent economic activities in various parts of the country,”Nsubuga said.

The UMEME Chief Operations Officer revealed that Mbale region accounts for ten percent of the total power losses in the country which translates into ten billion shillings lost in the region every year. She however noted that with their ‘Wuuyo’ campaign they have been able to reduce it by at least ten percent in Mbale region alone.

She said that they engaged local leaders including Members of Parliament in the area and sensitised the masses about the dangers of power theft. Access to electricity in Uganda has increased from seven percent in 2001 to twenty four percent currently.

The government of Uganda also intends to increase access to electricity especially in rural areas to 26 percent by the year 2022 according to the rural electrification strategy and plan 2013- 2022.

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