Uganda wants to outstrip Kenya as powerhouse of East Africa by 2019

Ugandans are opportunists by nature,” says Daniel Joloba, a programme manager at Enterprise Uganda  while discussing about the country’s chance of becoming East Africa’s investment hub at an entrepreneurship boot camp last month.

It seems, Joloba’s assertion, is not out of place, as Uganda’s director of communication in the ministry of energy and mineral development has again disclosed that the country is ready to develop more hydropower plants and by 2019, Uganda, which currently generates 900MW of electricity, will see its power output outstrip that of Kenya and Tanzania, whose current output is 1,560MW and 1,200MW, respectively.

The Chinese government is also playing the fatherly role, helping Uganda achieve its ambition.

The commitment showed by the Chinese government is helping Uganda complete two hydropower plants, The Karuma Hydroelectric Power Station, in River Nile and Maziba Power Station in River Maziba added to the Isimba Hydroelectric Power Station completed last year, putting the countries power plants to 17.

Interestingly, another 13 power plants has been projected  to be completed  by 2020

The previous privatization policy aimed at attracting investors to exploit the vast hydropower potential on the River Nile valley failed in the early 1990s because the economy was in doldrums following the political violence of the 1980s. But after 1995, political stability spurred the economy to grow at an average rate of 6%, leading to the soar of electricity demands.

The Ugandan government has sought  China’s help after  years of failed attempt  by President Yoweri Museveni’s government to raise funds to increase Uganda electricity ambition, although Industrial Promotion Services (IPS), which is owned by Kenya-based Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, built  $900m Bujagali Power station, which was constructed in 2007 and commissioned in 2012, the country suffered high shortage of electricity, Ugandans were forced to pay astronomically for power.

All that seem to be in the past now, as Uganda targets to generate  800MW to its current output through the development of the Ayago Hydropower project funded by the Ayago project – which will push the country’s electricity output to 1,700MW by the end of next year – will mainly be financed by Chinese investors, according to Kasita.

According to Kasita, quoted by  African Business Magazine the deal will see Uganda export electricity from the Ayago hydropower to Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) and South Sudan, while the combined power from Jinja region, specifically from the Owen Falls Dam (managed and maintained by South Africa’s Eskom), Nalubaale and Bujagali, which will produce a combined total of 800MW, will be exported to Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.