Uganda: Construction of 250-MW Karuma seen in early 2008

With international funding for the 250-MW Bujagali hydroelectric project just approved, Uganda Energy Minister Simon D’Ujanga says construction is to begin in early 2008 on another big Nile River hydro project, 250-MW Karuma.

D’Ujanga said, because of its simpler design, the US$450 million project is to be built in only three years, going on line in 2011, Uganda’s state-owned New Vision reported May 13.

�Karuma project is in preparation and it is estimated to cost US$450 million,� D’Ujanga was quoted saying. �The power plant complex will cost US$355 million and transmission lines, the substation, and the resettlement plan will cost US$95 million.�

The government of Uganda announced in late 2006 that it would seek bids for planning and construction of Karuma, which it set at that time at 250 MW. (HNN 11/28/06) The government is working with Norpak Power Ltd. of Norway as strategic investor.

Last week, Uganda Finance Minister Ezra Suruma said studies of Karuma would be accelerated as part of a plan to address Uganda’s energy crisis. The Kenya-based East African reported that Suruma also announced plans to put more money into a US$57 million Energy Investment Fund created last year for the purpose of developing power infrastructure projects such as Karuma.

Karuma is to be built as a run-of-river project, with no regulation of river flow. The project is to include a new substation at Olwinyo and transmission lines linking the hydro plant to the Kawanda substation near Kampala and the 132-kilovolt grid system at Lira substation.

In the late 1990s, Norpak carried out feasibility studies, an environmental impact assessment, and a resettlement action plan for the project.

In the past few days, the European Investment Bank, African Development Bank, and the World Bank joined together to approve funding for the 250-MW Bujagali hydroelectric project on Uganda’s Victoria Nile River. (HNN 5/14/07)

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