Uganda president: Work on 250-MW Karuma on track for 2008

Launching a Peace, Recovery, and Development Plan for northern Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni said October 15 that construction of the 250-MW Karuma hydroelectric project will begin next year on the Nile River.

Museveni announced a series of proposals to revive development in areas affected by recent guerrilla warfare.

He assured Ugandans that construction of the 250-MW Bujagali hydro project is under way on the Victoria Nile. (HNN 10/10/07) He said that will be followed next year by start of construction on Karuma (HNN 9/17/07) and after that by construction of 304-MW Ayago North, also on the Nile. (HNN 2/5/07)

Chief Executive Frank Sebbowa of Uganda’s Electricity Regulatory Authority said last week that negotiations for Karuma’s construction have begun. Uganda’s New Vision quoted Sebbowa saying the government and potential strategic investor Norpak Power Ltd. of Norway are drafting a memorandum of understanding to speed up the process of obtaining other documents. Such documents would include generation and environmental licenses and power purchase agreements.

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. Because its design is simpler than the Bujagali project, officials have said the US$450 million project is to be built in only three years, going on line in 2011-2012.

During a September visit from World Bank officials, Museveni said the government would accept no delays in increasing the supply of electricity to Uganda’s grid. He said work must begin soon on Karuma in order to stay ahead of electricity demand. At that time, the president’s office said visiting World Bank Country Director John Murray McIntire told Museveni the bank would cooperate with the Uganda government on the hydropower scheme, the construction of roads, and rehabilitation of infrastructure.

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