China lends government Shs811b to extend power to sub-counties

By Christine Kasemiire

Government has borrowed $212m (Shs811b) from China to extend electricity to sub-counties in a bid to improve accessibility.

Uganda, Ms Irene Muloni, the Energy minister, said during last week’s Power Forum in Kampala, had acquired the loan from China’s Exim Bank for a project that will extend electricity to all sub-counties across the country in the next three years.
“We acquired the loan from China to ensure that we extend electricity up to sub-county level,” she said.
The project will be implemented by Rural Electrification Agency and a contractor has already been secured to start work next month.

It is expected to cover 547 sub-counties in Uganda putting focusing on trade and health centres, schools and economic zones.
Uganda currently has less than 1.5 million lines connected on the national grid, with Umeme having the biggest reach.

The project, Ms Muloni said, comes at a time when government is nearing electricity extension to all district in Uganda.
“Only two districts – Kotido and Kaabong – are yet to get power. Electricity has been extended at all districts,” she said.
The sub-county power extension project will be implemented alongside the free electricity connection policy, which was recently launched by Rural Electrification Agency.

The move is inspired by the need to bolster access to electricity, which currently stands at 22 per cent.
Government plans to grow electricity to at least 60 per cent in the next 10 years.

Increased utilisation of power will be a timely venture ahead of the commissioning of different dams including Karuma and Isimba. The two dams have a combined generation capacity of more than 700 megawatts.
This will bring the country’s generation to a little over 1,600 megawatts.

Uganda is also seeking to supply its excess electricity to regional countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and DR Congo.
Ms Muloni revealed that government is seeking to create a power pool through which other countries can purchase electricity.

According to Ms Muloni, Uganda will share the power with neighbouring counties. This will also strengthen interconnections building on the already 220 kilovolts. Some the countries that have shown interest, she said, include South Sudan and DR Congo.

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