Story by STEPHEN OUMA, Nation Correspondent, Kampala
Publication Date: 8/19/2007
The long-awaited building of the Bujagali hydro-power dam finally becomes a reality on Tuesday when the groundbreaking ceremonies take place.
The $750 million World Bank assisted multinational hydro-power project, the biggest investment in sub-Saharan Africa, is a public-private partnership with the Government of Uganda as primary promoter.
Bujagali power project, about 100 km of 132 KV transmission lines to be completed in four to five years, is a realisation of ten years of study and planning.
The Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, who is on a 12-day Golden Jubilee visit to East Africa, is to officiate at the inauguration ceremony as well as four other projects under the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).
The grand ceremony will be graced by President Yoweri Museveni, State and national officials and other dignitaries.
When completed, the dam will increase Uganda’s installed capacity by up to 250 megawatts.
The project will sharply reduce the country’s current 150-megawatt power deficit, 100 MW of which is provided by thermal plants.
The project is also expected to meet demands for the anticipated increase in energy use in Uganda, estimated at between 30-40 MW per year.
According to an expert, Mr Michae Ocilaje, Bujagali Energy Limited, which brings together Industrial Promotion Services (Kenya) Limited and SG Bujagali Holdings Limited, is to provide additional benefits, primarily for the local region affected by the project.
SG Bujagali Holdings is an affiliate of Sithe Global Power, LLC (USA).
Bujagali Energy Limited is to build, operate and transfer BHP. The Bujagali Interconnection Project (BIP) will be implemented by the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited.
The (BIP), which is part of Bujagali Hydro Power Station project, will provide the transmission infrastructure and distribute the hydro electricity to the Ugandan power grid.
As part of the development agreement, BEL is to manage and oversee implementation of Community Action Plan and Resettlement Action Plan of Bujagali Project Transmission Line from Bujagali to Kawanda and on to Mutundwe.
The impact assessment, prepared by an international group of environmental and social experts and monitored by experts from seven international financing institutions, was disclosed to the public in December 2006. The environmental and social impact assessment has taken into account the issues raised regarding the project’s potential impact
Comprehensive consultations, monitored by independent NGOs, were held with local community members and national stakeholders, to identify compensation measures.
The local community and other affected people are supportive of the project.
Compensation for land taken and resettlement of 5,158 persons compare favourably with similar projects worldwide.
Following fast-tracking of negotiations, which resulted in the conclusion of nine agreements, the government released US$75 million to Salini to assist in mobilisation and begin the construction.
Initial construction work started on June 15, 2007. The work includes, among other things, clearing of the dam site, spillway and power house area, test borings, and on-the-ground surveying. The excavation and widening and improvement of access, as well as service roads, is being done.
In addition, clearing of vegetation from the quarry area is being done. Land survey of access/service roads, site construction, and building construction are all in progress.
As part of the mobilisation effort, substantial equipment and machinery is soon to be received.
Over 100 people (80 per cent of whom are local residents) are being employed in the project.
About $2.4 million will be invested in community initiatives.
Through this initiative, the inhabitants of Wakisi sub-county (west bank) in the Mukono District and Budondo sub-county (east bank) in Jinja District will benefit from the project through improved housing and water supply, better schools and health facilities.
The project will also create jobs in construction and in plant operations.
It will contribute to improving the frame-work for private sector activities in the country and reduce severe disruptions of economic activities in periods of drought.
The 250-megawatt power-generating facility is part of a broader energy strategy that seeks to develop generation capacity to meet medium and long-term electricity requirements for the country.