Karuma unveiling now pushed to September 2024

HABARI DAILY I Kampala, Uganda I The Karuma Hydroelectric Station, the largest power-generating facility in Uganda, is slated for commissioning by September 2024, according to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development. The construction of this monumental 600MW power station, situated along the River Nile in Kiryandongo District, commenced in December 2013, with the completion initially estimated for 2018.

Originally projected to cost USD 1.7 billion, approximately 6.323 trillion Shillings, the cost has ballooned to 8.183 trillion Shillings due to unforeseen delays and extensions. The project faced obstacles such as land acquisition and vandalism, which led to a series of setbacks.

Sidronious Okasaai Opolot, the State Minister for Energy, acknowledged the challenges, stating that the dam, initially expected to be ready by 2019, encountered various hindrances. As of now, four out of the six units are fully operational and synchronized with the national grid. The completion of the fourth unit is expected by the end of November, while the sixth unit is slated for readiness in 2024, optimizing the functionality of this decade-long hydroelectric facility.

Eng. Emmanuel Sande Nsubuga, a Principal Energy Officer in the Ministry, highlighted that the completion of the Karuma Dam project would enhance power supply, meeting the growing demand for 1 gigawatt of electricity required by industrial players along the transmission route.

Eng. Cecilia Nakiranda Menya, the Acting Director of Energy Resources in the Ministry, emphasized that the Karuma Power Project is integral to Uganda’s goal of achieving 52,000 MW of generation capacity, fostering sustainable economic growth.

To support the electricity access scale-up project, the Ugandan government secured approval from Parliament in November 2022 to borrow up to US$331.5 million, approximately Shillings 1.242 trillion from the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank Group.

Despite the progress on the Karuma project, recent discussions in Parliament reflected disappointment with the status of the electricity and power sub-sector in the country. The government aims to achieve universal access to electricity by 2030, with plans to connect an additional 1.5 million households to the grid, increasing the electrification rate from 28% to 50%. 

Karuma Dam power execution lines

As of December 2022, Uganda boasts an installed electricity capacity of 1,402 megawatts, with a surplus of 559 MW against a demand of 843 MW, according to the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA).

Upon completion, the Karuma Hydroelectric Station is expected to boost the country’s installed electricity capacity to at least 2000 MW. In October, the government launched the Energy Policy 2023, aligning with Uganda’s Vision 2040, to enhance access to electricity for households, industrial parks, commercial enterprises, and public institutions, fostering socio-economic transformation.

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