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Country Eyes Uganda Power

Feb 6, 2008 - The Monitor/All Africa Global Media

Uganda could export significant amounts of electricity to DR Congo in future, though the country is currently grappling with severe energy shortages, the Minister of Energy, has said.

Mr Daudi Migereko suggested at a meeting between Ugandan and Congolese energy officials recently that Uganda will by 2011 have stabilised its energy sector and will be in a position to export to DR Congo between 50 mega watts (MW) to 160 MW of power.

"DRC is planning to import electricity from Uganda for the towns close to the Ugandan border," said a statement released by the Energy ministry.

It said the power export would materialise when Uganda has started to generate thermal power from the Heavy Fuel Oils to be produced in Western Uganda around 2009. Plans for construction of a mini refinery are now underway in Hoima District.

The ministry's assertion appears curiously implausible since Uganda's energy needs, according to the Electricity Regulatory Authority, are said to grow at 30 per cent implying that by the time the new generating projects (Bujagali, thermal and minihydros) come on board the country's energy demand will have probably surpassed the boosted supply capacity.

The meeting was convened as a follow-up to the Ngurdoto (Tanzania) meeting between President Yoweri Museveni and Mr Joseph Kabila of the DRC, that was meant to defuse the tensions that were mounting on the border, in part stoked by the newly discovered petroleum deposits around the Lake Albert Basin, which both countries share.

"By 2011, Uganda will have an additional 460 MW of which 50 MW will be from renewable energy resources (small hydro projects and biomass) and 160 MW from thermal sources," Mr Migereko said.

By some estimates, Uganda currently has a power deficit of about 300 MW, which has accumulated through a neglected generation sector and derelict transmission and distribution lines that leak nearly 40 per cent of the power released onto the national grid at the generation points.

Mr Migereko also said the development of Karuma has been fast-tracked and would commence soon.

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