Bujagali Energy Limited (BEL) has increased Uganda’s power generation capacity by 44 per cent, almost doubling the country’s electricity supply over a year since it was officially switched on, BEL’s General Manager John Berry has said.
Celebrating its first year since August 2012, Thomas DeLeo the Chief Operation officer of Sithe Global – one of the operating partners, says Bujagali has caused electricity supply to surpass the demand for the first time. In fact, Uganda now exports electricity to neighbouring countries, without affecting its people.
The project’s ability to increase generation at peak time has helped eliminate load shedding, which used to last up to 12 hours every day. Load shedding undermines a country’s competitiveness by affecting the country’s industrial production capacity, mining and services. DeLeo says that for a country to get her priorities right, constant supply of electricity is a major driver of investment.
“There were a lot of doubts so today we want to say that every single query has been put to bed whether on amount of power, cost of power or the dam’s impact on the environment. This project has been delivered on time and within the budget. Today we can say that despite all the questions which were raised, you can see it has been a success, Uganda now exports power to Kenya,” DeLeo said.
“It is not what you have been listening to … it is what you can see. Load shedding is not a generation issue anymore but rather a transmission and distribution issue. Some people thought Bujagali would never do 250 mega watts but we provide it at full capacity at least 4 hours every day. We have delivered and exceeded the delivery you expected of us,” DeLeo said, during an inspection of the power plant in Jinja.
He said this had saved Uganda’s government $9.5m spent on emergency thermal power subsidies during load shedding every month. Between 2006 and 2011, Uganda spent some $900m on thermal power subsidies alone.
Bujagali Hydropower project was established through a public private partnership between Government of Uganda, the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development and Sithe Global. They formed BEL to own and operate the power plant on a 30 year concession period which will be transferred to GOU after 30 years.
BEL has also committed $2.8m on projects in its area of operation that includes education, water, sanitation, reforestation and rural electrification.