Kenya Supplies Electricity to Uganda as Isimba Dam Suddenly Shuts Down

By Our Senior Writer

Uganda has ordered for 60 Megawatts of emergency electricity supply from Kenya following the sudden shut down of the power generation station at Isimba Dam.

Uganda’s Isimba Dam power station was suddenly shut down last week on Monday following a sudden unexpected flow of water into the powerhouse. 

Energy minister Ruth Nankabirwa says in a statement that comes a week after the incident and finally sheds light to the public on the hitherto inexplicably more frequent load-shedding in recent days, that the shutdown at Isimba had to be done to ensure the safety of the staff and the electro-mechanical equipment.

Besides turning to Kenya which was in the middle of a sensitive electoral process for emergency electricity supply, Uganda also re-activated other power sources, namely the Namanve-based thermo (diesel-burning) plant for 50 Megawatts and also turned to Kakira Sugar Works for 20Megawatts generated from burning bagasse (the fibrous sugarcane waste that remains after juice for sugar is extracted).

Uganda today has an installed capacity to generate 1,200 Megawatts, but barely consumes half of it, actually using about 800 MW at peak period. However, the country has to service the full loans incurred to construct the power dams. Besides, the generating companies also have to be paid. The expansion of the distribution network can create more consumption where there may be demand.

Game changer

However, a real game changer that would enable the country to use all the electricity generated is the current drive by President Museveni to transition (especially public) transport from fuel engines to electric. 

Although the electrification of transport would enhance health by reducing pollution that causes 60,000 deaths in Uganda every year and also contribute to the fight against climate change, the immediate benefit for the country would the reduction of the crippling petroleum import bill. Uganda is now spending $2 billion a year on the importation of fuel for vehicles and spares for the internal combustion engines. 

The switch to electric-powered transport would thus create four immediate major benefits to Uganda thus:

1.Reduce the poisonous vehicle exhausts that contribute enormously to the air pollution that kill 60,000 Ugandans a year

2.Create an estimated 1 million jobs for young Ugandans along the elctro-mobility value chain

3.Lead to saving $2 billion spent on importing fuel and spares for fuel engine vehcies

4.Earn revenue from car charging electricity to contribute to the repayment of the loans for building dams

5.Contribute to the reduction of global warming that has caused climate change

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