Kampala. Umeme has completed a $2.2m (Shs8b) feeder project that has stabilised power supply in western Uganda.
The project, codenamed Mbarara central-Masaka west, is a 33 kilovolt feeder, which was undertaken by the power distribution company in 2017 to extend power from the Mbarara north substation to Mbarara central.
It also seeks to sufficiently supply power to parts of Masaka and surrounding areas.
Speaking to during a stakeholder engagement in western Uganda last week, Mr Moses Mugume, the Umeme technical officer in Mbarara, said the substation has now stabilised power supply in western Uganda.
“We receive 33 kilovolt from Mbarara North 1 and 2. Those are 33 kilovolt interconnectors. We [also] have long lines [from] Masaka west, which stretch up to 147 kilometre to Kanungu,” he said adding: “We also have Kikagata which goes beyond 200 kilometres.”
The interconnectors, he said, connect lines to two or more substations.
The refurbishing of Masaka west line was embarked on in 2016 with the aim of improving power supply in western Uganda, given the industrial potential in the region.
Mr Mugume said power supply had been a problem in the region threatening a number of industries such as Coca Cola, Pearl Dairy and Nile Breweries, among others.
The Mbarara and Masaka corridors are also the main supply channels of Uganda’s milk, a vital raw material for a number of upcoming and existing industries within and beyond the region.
Mr Seth Devendra, the Pearl Dairy managing director, said power in the region had since 2013 been characterised by black outs that would last days. “Power has stabilised. We have the capacity to process about 800,000 litres of milk daily. Our major utility is power,” he said, adding any shortage of power supply ends in losses.
Other industries such as Igara Growers Tea Factory have already benefited from the power stability, which, according to Mr Mugume Edgar, the factory maintenance supervisor, has enabled the company to save money that had been allocated to diesel.
Umeme, according to Mr Thomas Tondo, the Mbarara District manager, has also cut back on power losses from about 20 per cent to 8 per cent.
The losses were mainly technical and some commercial.
However, vandalism continues to be a serious challenge with many transformers, cables and conductors vandalised.
Umeme is expected to invest over $8.2m (Shs30b) in evacuating power from generation projects in Kasese District, which fall under its concession.
They include Nyamwamba with 9.2 megawatts, Rwimi with 5.5 megawatts, Kakaka with 5 megawatts among others,. The power is expected to create an enabling environment for private investment in the region.