China plays key role in Uganda’s energy infrastructure dev’t: report

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Photo taken on March 21, 2019 shows Isimba hydro-dam, a hydropower project on the Victoria Nile in Kayunga, Uganda. (Xinhua/Zhang Gaiping)

China is playing a major role in the energy infrastructure development in Uganda as the country strives to fast-track economic development, a new report issued here on Monday showed.

An annual report by Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), a state owned agency, showed that China is financing construction of hydropower plants and power evacuation lines in the East African country.

During the year under review 2018/19, construction of Chinese financed 183 MW-Isimba Hydropower Plant was completed and commissioned. The commissioning of the 566-million-U.S. dollar power plant largely contributed to the increase of the total power generated in the country to 1,176.6MW from 953.8 MW, according to the report.

“Perhaps the greatest milestone this financial year (2018/19) was the commissioning of the 183 MW Isimba Hydropower Plant at the border of Kayunga and Kamuli districts,” Ziria Tibalwa Waako, chief executive of ERA said in the report.

“The Isimba plant is truly testimony that public-private-partnerships are a crucial building block towards sustainable electricity supply,” she added. The power plant was financed by the Export-Import Bank of China (85 percent) and Ugandan government (15 percent).

According to the report, power generated by Isimba will be sold at U.S. cents 4.16/kWh (from year 1 to year 15) and cents 1.01/ kWh (after year 15), making it the cheapest in the country, with the exception of the power from the 380 megawatts Nalubaale-Kiira Generation Complex.

China is also financing the construction of the 600MW Karuma Hydropower Plant. The project, which is in its final stages, will substantially increase the power generated in the country, according to the report.

The report showed that the Export-Import Bank of China is also financing the 248km, 400kV power evacuation lines from the Karuma power plant to Kawanda, near the capital Kampala. Chinese construction company, Sino Hydro was contracted to construct the transmission line.

China is also financing a feasibility study of the construction of the 10km, 400kV Ayago-Karuma Interconnection Project. The line is expected to evacuate power from the proposed 680MW Ayago Hydropower Project.

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