Baz Waiswa

Baz Waiswa

Uganda Takes Over Nalubaale, Kiira HPPs From Eskom

Eskom Uganda Limited has handed over Nalubaale and Kiira Hydro Power Plants (HPPs) back to the government of Uganda through the Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL).

This comes after a 20-year concession between Uganda and the South African energy firm came to an end.

The handover of the power plants to UEGCL and the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) took place in Jinja City on Monday, 27 March 2023.

The Managing Director of Eskom Uganda, Thozama Gangi, said she was handing over a healthy power plant to Uganda.

“I am happy to report that Eskom is handing over a healthy plant to the government of Uganda. The plant’s availability stands at 99%. Nalubaale HPP can run for the next 20 years, and Kiira HPP (50 years),” she said.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UEGCL, Dr Eng. Harrison Mutikanga, said UEGCL will officially start managing and running the plants on Saturday, April 1, 2023.

He said Nalubaale will be 70 years next year; and thanked Eskom for maintaining and running the power plants in a health manner.

“On behalf of UEGCL, we accept to take back our assets (380MW Nalubaale & Kiira Power Plants),” Dr Eng. Mutikanga said after receiving the plant keys & documents from Peter Lokeris, the Minister of State for Minerals.

“As we take over the management and operation of these power stations, we are committed to ensuring that they continue to provide reliable and affordable electricity to the people of Uganda,” said Dr. Eng Mutikanga

Eng. Ziria Tibalwa Waako, the CEO of Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), the regulator of the electricity supply industry, was ecstatic that from only 3 power plants, Uganda now has over 50 power generating plants.

"I would like to thank Eskom Uganda for their great contribution and investment in the electricity supply industry,” Eng Waako said.

Eskom Uganda has managed the Nalubaale and Kiira HPP since April 1, 2003.

Finance Ministry Positive Oil & Gas Will Resuscitate Economy

The Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) is optimistic that the oil and gas industry which is has reached the development phase will spur the recovery of the country’s economy.

Ramathan Ggoobi, the Permanent Secretary & Secretary to the Treasury at MoFPED, recently speaking at the Dialogue on Public Debt & Development in Kampala said growth will be driven primarily by activities in oil & gas sector.

Ggoobi also revealed that the real GDP growth will increase to over 7 percent at the start of commercial oil production.

Uganda discovered oil and gas in the Albertine Graben in western Uganda in 2006 but hasn’t been able to pump it out of the ground. Despite the delays, the country was able to reach a Final Investment Decision early 2022 teeing off the investment of about $15bn.

Oil majors TotalEnergies from France and Chinese CNOOC are developing oil fields in Albertine Graben under the projects Tilenga and Kingfisher respectively. 

 In January, China's CNOOC launched the drilling programme for the first production well in the fields. TotalEnergies is expected to do the same soon so as to enable the country becomes an oil producer in 2025, the new set target.

Uganda is also progressing well in its ambition of constructing a crude export pipeline in partnership with Tanzania. The 1444km-long heated pipeline will carry crude from Hoima to the port of Tanga for export.

Uganda, through Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC), signed a MoU with Sonatrach, the State Oil Company of Algeria, to cooperate in the Upstream, Midstream (refining and petrochemicals), Downstream, capacity building, and Oil & Gas Services.

President Yoweri Museveni who witnessed the signing of the MoU said Uganda is looking at Algeria to invest ‘in our refinery.’

“We want to build an inland refinery. It is absolutely necessary because it will cut transport costs seeing that we are far away from the coast,” he said in a brief update during his recent tour of the Maghreb nation.

Youths Protest Delayed Restoration Of Bugoma Land By Hoima Sugar

Youth for Green Communities, a local Non-Government Authority, on 20th March 2023, wrote to the Executive Director of Hoima Sugar Ltd protesting the delayed restoration of Bugoma Central Forest Reserve.

The National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), on 27th September 2022, released a Press Statement in which it ordered Hoima Sugar to safeguard the environment and stop any further damage to the environment.

In the statement, NEMA asked Hoima Sugar to immediately stop any further deforestation of the natural reserved forest area, ecotourism area, cultural sites and land reserved for the urban centre.

It also asked Hoima Sugar not to plant any sugar cane in the said reserved area, restore degraded areas, prepare and implement a restoration plan for the affected areas at the company's cost and permit third parties approved by the Authority to participate in the restoration process.

Further, NEMA halted the urbanization of the 312.3ha which had earlier in 2020 been approved to be developed into an urban centre - NEMA said that the said area should be kept as a natural forest in view of the country's effort to recover forest cover loss.

In September last year, NEMA had warned that failure to comply with the given instructions would result in NEMA cancelling the ESIA certificate and further legal actions against Hoima Sugar Limited.

The National Environment Management Authority issued Hoima Sugar Ltd an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) certificate No. NEMA/ESIA/13709 on 14th August 2020 to implement its projects.

Section 4 of the ESIA Certificate indicated specific conditions and components of the project as follows: Sugarcane Plantation (9.24 sq. miles); Urban Centre (1.206 sq. miles); Eco-tourism Centre (1.97 sq. miles); Cultural Site (0.156 sq. miles / 40.4038 ha) and The natural reserved forest and nature walk-ways/trails (6.17 sq. miles).

But according to the protest letter by Youth for Green Communities, Hoima Sugar has not heeded to the directives by NEMA, almost a year later.

According to Aryampa Brighton, the Chief Executive Officer of Youth for Green Communities, they are demanding that the company immediately stops the forest destruction for sugarcane plantations in compliance with NEMA orders.

Here Is Why Museveni is Buoyant About Nuclear Power Project

President Yoweri Museveni has defended the nuclear power generation in Uganda, clarifying that the crisis of 2005 when a severe drought affected the hydro power generation at Owen Falls Dam in Jinja prompted him to direct the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development to diversify the energy mix to ensure energy security for the country.

“In 2005, Uganda experienced drought that affected hydro electricity generation from Owen Falls Dam. As a result we resorted to expensive fossil powered plants to support the economy which prompted me to direct the Ministry of Energy and mineral Development to diversify the energy mix to develop all the available resources including nuclear energy as a means to address the electricity needs of the country,” the President said.

The President made the remarks Wednesday during the opening of the 2nd Africa Nuclear Business Platform Conference and Exhibition 2023 at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala, Uganda. The conference running from 14th - 7th, March has attracted over 300 stakeholders from the domestic and international nuclear community.

Need for transparent partnerships

Museveni further noted that the sustainable development and the utilization of these resources necessitates establishing transparent and well-balanced partnership with key technology providers.

“Therefore, this meeting presents a very good opportunity for exploring areas of strategic collaborations between African countries pursuing nuclear energy development and nuclear energy providers in forging the way forward,” he observed.

While referring to the speech by the representative of the South Korean CEO of the Korean Hydro and Nuclear Company (KHNP), Cha Seop Kim who said Korea has made great strides in the nuclear development, Museveni pointed out that the people of Africa and Uganda in particular lack the mentality to initiate development programs citing Korea that was in the 1960’s poorer than some of the African countries, today has 25 nuclear power plants.

He said in 1986 Uganda was generating only 60 MW of electricity and the country will soon generate 2,100 MW of electricity observing that it will not be enough for the country's needs. He added that Uganda needs about 100,000MW of electricity.

Museveni also noted that the population destroys about 40 billion cubic meters of trees annually for heating and cooking. He said while trees grow easily it is not however the correct way to go.

Tactical ban on uranium

On uranium, the President reiterated his firm stand that the natural mineral will never be exported as it is needed for the generation of nuclear power.

“I halted the exportation of uranium because we need electricity for socio-economic development. The issue of Nuclear Power in Africa is a must, it is reliable. The option of nuclear power is a very wise one; we should not waste time on that,” he stressed.

Museveni further told delegates that the potential of rivers in Africa that include the Nile, Congo, Niger and Zambezi is about 300 MW and they are not reliable.

Centers at Soroti University

Museveni also witnessed the signing of the three (3) Memoranda of Understanding between the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development officials and partners in the nuclear energy sector.

The first MOU was that of the establishment of a center of excellence at Soroti University and was signed by the Minister of State for Energy Okasai Opolot while the Vice Chancellor Professor Ikojja signed on behalf of the University.

The Second MOU was for the establishment of the center for Nuclear Science and Technology at Soroti University and was signed by the Vice President of IVAP SE Pablo Abbate on behalf of IVAP SE Group of Argentina and Okasai signed on behalf of the government of Uganda.

The 3rd MOU was for the development of a nuclear power plant in Uganda and was signed by Cha-seop Kim who was representing the CEO of South Korea's Hydro and Nuclear Power Company Dr. Joo-ho-Whanga.

Nuclear good option for accessing electricity  

Earlier, the Prime Minister the Robinah Nabbanja said nuclear power is one of the options that will enable Uganda to achieve global goals of accessing electricity for all.

She added that potential sites for the construction of the plants have been identified one of them being in Buyende district. She thanked IAEA for the technical support in the feasibility studies.

The Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Ruth Nankabirwa, who was represented by the Minister of State for Energy Okaasai Sidronius Opolot, told the audience that nuclear power offers many advantages such as a reliable and stable energy supply to enable industrialisation and thus energy security.

Nuclear energy is clean energy

She added that the conference comes at the right time when the Government of Uganda has made the plans to incorporate nuclear power in the country’s energy mix, with an installation, currently standing at 1346MW mainly from Hydro.

The Deputy Director of IAEA Mikhail Chudakov pointed out that the clear alternative for clean energy is nuclear power that can lift many people in Africa from poverty.

Her said nuclear power can also mitigate the issue of climate change.

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