Energy minister defends power exports

The minister of state for Energy, Simon D'ujanga has said the country will continue to export electricity to the neighbouring countries as part of the regional cooperation in the power sector.

There has been concern that the Energy ministry is entering many power export deals without ascertaining whether the power dams in the country will produce enough electricity to meet local and regional demands.

Uganda last week signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of South Sudan to supply 400 kilovolts of power from Nimule to the border townships of Kajo-Keji and Kaya.

Uganda is also implementing a 132KV transmission line from Lira to Arua. There are plans to have power lines to connect Kaaya township in South Sudan with electricity from Arua.

Uganda has also signed power deals with Kenya, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic Congo.

The power export deals are based on assumption that Karuma, Isimba, Bujagali and more planned hydropower dams will produce excess power from which government can earn money.

Experts in Water or hydrology have, however, expressed doubt whether the rivers will have enough water to run the dams to the expected capacity.

But D'ujanga insisted that the fears are uncalled for.

Calist Tindimugaya, the director of Water Regulation at the Water and Environment ministry, said there was need to carefully plan the power dams given that hydro electricity production is mainly hinged on the amount of water available in the country.

Tindimugaya said he recently objected to a request by Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) to have more water released to Kiira and Bujagali dams to enable them produce more electricity.

Eskom has on several occasions turned down a directive from the ministry of Energy asking it to release more water down to Bujagali.

Eskom reportedly only releases more water once granted a permit from the Water and Environment ministry.

The three dams - Kiira, Nalubale and Bujagali - have as a result been forced to operate below capacity because of the regulations on water.


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