Ugandan power utility aims to become leading power producer in Great Lake Region
Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL), is aiming to become the leading power producer in the Great Lakes region, the utility said on Tuesday.

CEO of UEGCL, Dr Eng Harrison E. Mutikanga said Uganda is a member of the Eastern Africa Power Pool (EAPP), where regional power interconnections are envisaged to be developed to ease the access to electricity power supply to all people of the countries in the Eastern Africa Region.

He said that their strategic objective in this regard is to ensure operational and investment efficiency as a means to realise a competitive tariff.

"In order to address and forestall the issue of high electricity tariffs, UEGCL is to adopt a multi-pronged approach. First and foremost, consideration will be given to attracting concessional finance for new projects. With the advent of the new hydro-power projects under construction, UEGCL's balance sheet will be geared and restructured and therefore attracting various forms of finance including concessional loans," The utility head said.

He said that the second approach would be to adopt an Indigenous Operation and Maintenance policy for the new hydro-power stations under construction.

"UEGCL is already in the process of recruiting Ugandans who will undergo capacity building and this will therefore create employment and result into sustainable development of the energy sector. This is similar to the model adopted by KENGEN in Kenya. All these will result into a lower end user tariff," Mutikanga said.

The country's large power potential and enormous energy investment opportunities will be in focus when stakeholders and decision makers meet for a strategic conference for two days and then showcase during the inaugural "Future Energy Uganda which will be taking place in Kampala from September 13 to 14. Dr Mutikanga will be a featured panelist during a session that will be titled "What are Uganda's generation expansion plans".

He also said that in the nest two years, 848 MW of electricity will be added on to the grid.

"This will be achieved through the implementation of the Karuma (600 MW) and Isimba (183 MW) projects. Other  projects in the pipeline are the Muzizi (44.7 MW) and the Nyagak (5.5 MW) hydro-power plant projects for which construction works are due to commence next year.," he explained.

Other projects that will be undertaken includes four small hydro-power sites and these are Maziba SHPP (1MW), Okulacere SHPP- 6.5 MW, Agbinika SHPP – 2.2 MW, and Nabuyonga – 5.4 MW and according to Dr Mutikanga, UEGCL's interntion is to undertake feasibility studies for the aforementioned small hydro-power plants whose objective is to promote access of electricity to the rural and remote areas of Uganda.

He added: " UEGCL is also developing an alternative energy mix to reduce the heavy reliance on hydro which contributes over 80 percent of the total installed capacity, as such, we are looking at developing geothermal and solar.

The Future Energy Uganda conference will provide a platform for project developers, finance houses and multilateral investors, construction and planning companies as well as technology providers from Uganda, the region and from the rest of the world so the event will demonstrate the proactive nature of Uganda to develop the sector efficiently and effectively.

According to the utility's CEO, "the conference is pertinent as Uganda is at a crossroads as far as energy status is concerned and that the issues that need to be addressed are the ambitious NDP II and Vision 2040 targets coupled with the current low access rate, eminent increase in generation capacity, need to reticulate power to the end users, challenge of high power tariffs and the need for an holistic energy planning platform."

The utility is in the process of recruiting Ugandans who will undergo capacity building and this will therefore create employment and will result into sustainable development of the energy sector.