Feasibility study will determine fate of dam ‘near’ Murchison Falls – Govt

Energy Minister, Irene Nafuna Muloni
By :
Baluku Geoffrey

KAMPALA – Government has said a feasibility study to be undertaken soon will determine the fate of the proposed construction of a hydropower dam at Murchison Falls, Energy Minister, Irene Muloni has said.

Addressing journalists on Tuesday, Minister, Muloni said a South African company is set to carry out a feasibility study that will determine the fate of Murchison Falls. Her remarks follow a public uproar after the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) published a notice indicating that Bonang Power and Energy (Pty) Limited from South Africa was to construct a dam on the Murchison.

“In order to make a scientifically informed decision, Cabinet reviewed its decision yesterday 2nd December 2019 and agreed that a feasibility study is undertaken on the Uhuru falls site,” Muloni said.

Adding that, Uhuru Falls and Murchison Falls are separate falls and were 25km away from each other.

“The coordinates for Murchison Falls is 2016’ 22.99 N 31041’0.02 E while Coordinates for Uhuru Falls (The proposed HPP site) is 2016’ 42.6 N 31041’08.8 E,” she noted.

According to Muloni, the NDP II prioritized investments in energy infrastructure with a focus on the exploitation of the abundant renewable energy sources including hydropower, so as to increase power generation capacity from 825MW in 2012 to 2,500MW by 2020 and expansion of the national electric power grid network.

In that regard, she said that considerable progress had been made in the area of increasing electricity generation capacity through construction of large hydropower plants such as; Isimba Hydropower Plant (183 MW) that was commissioned in March 2019 bringing total installed capacity to 1202 MW; and Karuma Hydropower Project (600 MW) to be commissioned during the 1st Quarter of 2020.

Africa Tembelea understands that other projects under construction include; Agago – Achwa hydropower projects (83MW) and a number of renewable energy projects under the Global Energy Transfer – Feed-in-Tariffs (GETFiT) program totalling over 72 MW and these are Siti II 16. 5MW, Kyambura HPP 7.6MW, Sindila HPP 5.3MW, Nyamagasani I 15MW, Nyamagasani II 5MW and Kikagati HPP 16MW.

According to the most recent UBOS electrification survey, the national electricity access rate now stands at 50% with 26% on the grid and 24% on the off-grid.

Minister Muloni also made reference to Vision 2040, and noted that for Uganda to achieve the desired socio-economic transformation, it will require to have 41,738 Mega Watts by the year 2040 thus increasing the country’s electricity consumption per capita to 3,668 kWh.

She said that coignziant of the fact that for the 25 Industrial parks across the country to be constructed, there was need for huge volumes of power to accelerate industrialisation, value addition and job creation.

“The excess power we are currently having will be absorbed as soon as these industrial parks are completed,” Muloni said adding that the demand for power was growing at about 10% per annum.

On his part, Tourism Minister Hon Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu said that conservation of flora and fauna is not a choice for anyone, it is a command from the Constitution

“The decision of Cabinet after a long debate was, nothing doing, unless this (feasibility) study shows you can have a hydropower station without disrupting the conservation nature of the falls. That’s it! “he said.

– Mou –

The Government of Uganda signed a Memorandum of Understanding with M/S Bonang Energy and Power Ltd from the Republic of South Africa leading a Consortium that includes among others Norconsult and JSC Institute Hydro project to undertake detailed feasibility studies. The company applied for a permit to ERA to carry out a detailed feasibility study to guide the decision on the development of the proposed Uhuru Hydropower Project.

CSOs Write to President Museveni Against Building Dam on Murchison Falls

According to Muloni, the Electricity Regulatory Authority received a Notice of Intended Application for a Permit to undertake feasibility studies and other related activities in respect of the proposed Uhuru Hydropower project along River Nile in Kiryandongo and Nwoya Districts from Bonang Power and Energy (Pty) Limited.

She said that when processing an application for a permit in line with the Electricity Act, 1999, ERA has to consider the impact of a proposed project on public and private rights. This includes consideration of the environmental, economic, social and cultural impacts of a proposed project on the existing power and eco-system and also undertaking consultations among the various stakeholders.

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