Friday, January 20, 2012

Next Uganda dam to take 10 yrs, cost $2.2bn

Karuma dam works to take at least 10yrs


Posted Friday, January 20 2012 at 00:00

Electricity consumers will have to wait even longer for relief from
the power crisis since the 600MW Karuma dam project will take at least
10 years to complete, an energy expert from the United Kingdom has said.

The project estimated to cost $2.2b (about Shs6 trillion) will start
in May and according to the original government plan, should be
complete in five years, but Mr Neil Pinto, the chief executive officer
of Power Planning Associates Ltd, a UK firm contracted to work on the
project, Karuma would take a minimum of 10 years to complete.

�Bujagali is estimated to have cost $1b. My estimate is that Karuma
will cost $2.2b. There are several engineering challenges that are
going to be presented by Karuma such as long tunnels that shall have
to be built,� he said.

Mr Pinto said unless government establishes new electricity plants by
2014, Ugandans would be in exactly the same position in two years that
they are presently in. He proposed that government builds heavy fuel
oil power station in the meantime because it can be done faster.

Mr Pinto was on Wednesday speaking in Kampala during a public dialogue
organised by the Makerere University Economic Policy Research Centre
brainstorm on energy sector reforms. Electricity demand is growing at
10 per cent annually whereas generation is growing at 4.7 per cent,
which has partly led to power shortage and subsequent load-shedding in
the country.

The chairperson of Parliament�s Committee on the National Economy, Mr
Stephen Mukitale, said government had �over-hyped� large
hydroelectricity projects at the expense of other energy sources. He
said Parliament is considering compelling citizens to use solar energy.

The proposal would require that before a residential plan is approved,
it should have solar panels. He said this was meant to save the little
power that is generated for other purposes.

While Energy Minister Irene Muloni said power subsidies had reached
�unsustainable levels, especially given the need to invest in new
generation capacity and increasing access to rural areas.�

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