Energy (73)

SHODDY WORK: Museveni Considers Suspending Karuma, Isimba Power Dams


President Yoweri Museveni is considering suspending the construction of multimillion electricity generation dams at Karuma and Isimba because the contractors have continued to do shoddy work even when it has been brought to their attention.

In a letter to the minister of energy and minerals Irene Muloni dated 22nd March, 2016, the president revealed that he had “got disturbing reports that the work being done on the dams of Karuma and Isimba is shoddy because the 'owners' engineers' are either not serious or they have some other issues.”

The president in the same letter received by the ministry on March 23rd, 2016, a day later, goes on to explain that the contractors do not detect faults and do not insist on correcting them. President Museveni therefore demanded “prompt action” from the minister including considering to suspend ‘work until the defects are corrected,’

“My information for instance, points out that there is something known as draft tube, where the turbines are supposed to sit. These draft tubes should be assembled outside the hollow structures that are supposed to be their ultimate home and put in the hollows when they are able to align with the other parts. Instead, I am told, they are being welded in the hollow. i am told that is very risky.” Museveni writes.

“Mistakes are being observed at Karuma. The 'owner's engineers' are informed but they do nothing. I, therefore, direct you to, at once, confirm if these stories are true so that you stop further and more irreversible mistakes. If, for instance, concrete is poured over such defective structures, it will create an irreversible situation of having a defective dam and power house.

If it is necessary to suspend work until the defects are corrected, it should be done. The 'owners' engineers' could either be re-enforced or even dismissed. Re-enforcing them, at the minimum, would mean giving them other actors that to co-sign the completion forms before payments are made.” The president directs in the letter copied to the Vice President.

Karuma dam, according to ministry officials will be ready by December, 2018 when the six turbines will be up and running. The ministry officials, during a field tour this month at the Karuma construction site, noted that underground tunnels to access the power house that will generate about 600MW is almost complete.

Henry Bidasala, the commissioner electricity power development at the energy ministry said 30 percent of the construction work is done. Bidasala told journalists that excavation works of the Karuma hydropower project has been completed and that the contractors Sinohydro Corporation is at the stage of pouring concrete onto the excavated dam site.

But according to President Museveni's letter, much of this work is shoddy and a risk that will lead to loss of money and human life. Two Chinese firms, Sinohydro Corporation and China International Water and Electric Corporation were contacted to construct Karuma Hydroelectric Power Station (600MW) and Isimba Hydroelectric Power Station (183.2MW) respectively.

An Indian firm, Energy Infratech Private Limited was contracted to perform the feasibility study and supervise works at Karuma while a consortium consisting of engineering firms Fichtner (lead) and Norplan are in charge of Isimba through their sub-contractors Kagga & Partners, a local firm.

The estimate cost of constructing Karuma is put at US $2.2 billion while that of Isimba is valued to be $550 million. Both projects are funded through a loan government of Uganda acquired from Export-Import Bank of China. The two dams are scheduled to be commissioned in December 2018.

Karuma Hydroelectric Power Station is located at Karuma Falls on the Victoria Nile, at the present location of the Karuma Falls, in Northern Uganda on the highway to Gulu while Isimba Hydroelectric Power Station is located at the village of Isimba on the Victoria Nile, in Kamuli District, Eastern Uganda.

The procurement for the lead construction contractors were marred by corruption scandals that led to the delay of construction works to take off. And now talk of shoddy work risks suspension of the much needed projects considering the energy deficiency in the country.

Construction Of East Africa’s Largest Solar Power Project Starts In Uganda


The Uganda Ministry of Energy teed off the construction works of the largest privately funded solar power plant in East Africa. The project, based in Soroti, eastern Uganda, is being bankrolled by Access Uganda Solar ltd, a partnership between EREN RE and Access Power.

 Once finished and operational, the solar plant will power 40,000 homes and businesses. 80 percent of residents in Soroti and neighboring district currently don’t have access to electricity. This project, worth $19m, comes as a major boost. It will provide clean, low carbon, sustainable electricity to national grid.

State Minister for Mineral Development Hon. Peter Lokeris expressed government’s gratitude to Access Power for the development of energy in this region. “Uganda suffers an energy deficiency and has sought to work with Corporations such as Access Power to bridge this gap,”

“Government priorities such Agro Processing can only get lifted off the ground with sufficient and reliable energy. I have confidence in the project because our country enjoys an all year round sunny climate which is the resource for Solar Power.”

It is believed that the project will spur growth of small agrobased factories, power social centers like schools, hospitals among others.

Reda El Chaar, Executive Chairman of Access Power, said breaking the ground to symbolize start of construction of the project marks a major milestone for Access Power, for Uganda and for the development of Africa.

“According to the International Energy Agency, 60% of Africa’s population are living without reliable electricity supplies whilst as a continent it has attracted $25 billion in investment in renewables in the past six years.  Our company brings innovation, expertise and determination to every project we work on and we are particularly proud of Soroti and everyone involved”.

The Soroti project is the first solar power plant to be successfully developed under the GET FiT scheme, in partnership with the Government of Uganda through the country’s Electricity Regulatory Agency (ERA). It is funded by the European Union Infrastructure Trust Fund, and supported by the governments of Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom.

Current power generation in Eastern Uganda is intermittent, especially during the summer months, with extensive load shedding of up to four hours a day. This has impeded economic development in the area and also has an impact on the quality of life.  Local labour is being hired for the construction phase and the developers will also recruit and train engineers to operate the plant. 

Christophe Fleurence, Vice-President of Business Development - Africa of EREN RE, said the extensive political and international support to this project underlines the broad willingness to shift boundaries in electricity generation.

“EREN RE which is a renewable energy investor and a long-term independent power producer is determined to switch light on in many other places in Africa and emerging markets more generally, as efficiently as it was achieved at Soroti.”

Ethiopian Cement Company Signs Up For Renewable Energy


The Egyptian Company for Solid Waste Recycling (ECARU), a subsidiary of Qalaa Holdings’ Tawazon, announced signing of a US$ 50 million, five-year contract with Ethiopia’s Messebo Cement to supply 100,000 tons of biomass annually. The biomass will be used as a source of energy to replace coal.

As stipulated by the agreement between the two companies, ECARU will be the technology and service provider responsible for collecting, transporting and processing local Biomass that will be converted to environmentally-friendly alternative solid fuel.

“Biomass is a renewable, carbon neutral energy source that comes from agricultural residues that would otherwise be openly burned. This waste to energy solution for heavy industries such as cement manufacturing, is beneficial on multiple fronts. It helps nations solve their Biomass challenges, it reduces emissions that come from burning fossil fuels such as fuel oil, natural gas and coal, and it is a more cost-efficient and sustainable source of energy,” said Dr.HishamSherif, CEO of ENTAG/ECARU.

“Today we are exceptionally proud to be able to transfer our knowledge and years of experience to the countries of sub-Saharan Africa where Biomass as a source of renewable energy has been largely untapped,” he adds. ECARU has been supplying alternative Solid fuel, Biomass, as a source of energy to Egypt’s leading cement companies for the past five years.

The contract with Messebo Cement, which is located in Mekelle, 780 km from Addis Ababa with a production capacity of 2 million tons of cement per annum, is renewable beyond the stipulated five-year time period under the same terms and conditions.

Tawazon, Qalaa Holdings’ subsidiary company for investment in the regional solid waste management industry, controls two companies: the Egyptian Company for Solid Waste Recycling (ECARU), a solid waste management service provider, and Engineering Tasks Group (ENTAG), a solid waste management technology provider. Together, these two companies form a leading waste management enterprise with extensive operations in Egypt and an international project book in Oman, Malaysia, Sudan, Nigeria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Syria.

Qalaa Holdings has invested in Tawazon as part of its energy portfolio which also includes TAQA Arabia, Egypt’s largest private sector energy distribution company and the Egyptian Refining Company (ERC), a US$ 3.7 billion refinery, Egypt’s largest in-progress, private sector mega project.

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