Uganda to export power to South Sudan

Uganda to export power to South Sudan

The Ugandan government is set to sell surplus electricity from the Karuma hydropower dam to South Sudan.

Uganda’s Minister for Energy and Mineral Development Ms. Ruth Nankabirwa said last week the government would build electricity substations at Elegu border town in Amuru District in a move to trade its excess electricity.

Ms. Nankabirwa made the remarks while speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony of the Karuma HPP Community Development Action Programme (CDAP) Phase I works at Purongo Primary School in Nwoya District.

CDAP is a program that is funded by the government of Uganda to mitigate the increased pressure on local social infrastructures and livelihoods that arose from the construction of Karuma and Isimba Hydropower Dams.

The Shs3 billion project includes the construction of two classroom blocks at Purongo Primary School with an office, four staff houses, and ventilated improved pit latrines.

“We don’t consume all the power, but we [government] need the money. We will export our electricity to South Sudan just like we have been doing with Kenya through Tororo District,” she said.

Ms. Nankabirwa said once the initiative kicks off, the public should not politicize it since the money raised would help government clear its loans.

According to the minister, a lot of electricity is redundant.

“We recently went to Moroto District where there is a substation with its capacity of 80MWs, it is not being used. It is only 1.5 percent that is being put to use,” she added.

The Energy boss also told journalists that vandalism had continued to sabotage the progress and completion of the Karuma Hydropower plant.

The completion and commissioning date for the $1.7 billion Karuma hydropower project has been pushed to June 22, 2022. The works on the 600MW-dam are at 98.8 percent.

The project has three major high voltage transmission lines evacuating the power.  These are the 400 kilovolts (KV) Karuma to Kawanda line (248kms), standing at 98.22 percent completion level, the 400KV Karuma to Olwiyo Town in Nwoya (55kms), and the 132KV Karuma to Lira (75kms), standing at 95.74 percent and 81.96 percent completion level, respectively.

The project will create four substations at the Karuma site, now standing at 97.73 percent completion, Kawanda (97.93 percent), Olwiyo (76.10 percent), and Lira (97.73 percent).

Power capacity

 According to the Umeme website, the distribution infrastructure is composed of 161 terminal points with Uganda Electricity Transmission Company at their 20 substations; Umeme’s 69 distribution substations; 15,564 km of Medium Voltage network, 14,014 distribution transformers, and 21,788 km of low voltage network, including 1.5 million metering points.

The network distribution operations are split between Kampala and upcountry, further split into 13 technical engineering areas.

Umeme distributes 97 percent of electricity in Uganda, serving 1.5m customers that include domestic households, commercial small and medium enterprises, and industrial customers.

If made successful, the Karuma power supply could add into the country’s grid to boost the low supply that is yet to fully quench South Sudan’s thirst for power.  The country currently relies on a 100-megawatt supply from the Juba Electricity Distribution Company which falls below the supply that would solve the power crisis.