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Hydro project in Uganda close to commissioning
Uganda continues to welcome with open arms Chinese investment in power projects, with many schemes set to guarantee the energy provision needed to boost economic growth
Michael Marray 22 Jan 2019

The Chinese-built Isimba Hydropower Plant in Uganda is getting close to commissioning. The contractor on the 183 MW plant, situated alongside the River Nile in the Kayunga District, is China Water and Electric Corporation Limited.

Total project cost is estimated at US$568 million, with 15% coming from the Government of Uganda and 85% from China Exim Bank.

The implementing agency, the Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) said in a statement that the plant was close to commissioning.

The 183MW Isimba Hydro Power Project (HPP) is located 4 kilometres downstream of Simba Falls on the River Nile, about 50 kilometres downstream from the source of the Nile. The project site is about 21 kilometres from Kayunga Town. The power station will be installed with four vertical Kaplan turbine generator units with a capacity of 45.8 MW per unit, providing a combined installed capacity of 183.2 MW.

Construction of the plant started in 2015, and its commissioning will help address chronic power shortages that have stifled economic development in Uganda.

According UEGCL, the power plant is scheduled to be launched on January 24.

The bigger 600MW Karuma HPP is located on the River Nile in Kyandongo District in mid-northern Uganda, 110 kilometres downstream of Lake Kyoga, and 270 kilometres from Kampala, the Capital of Uganda. The contractor is Sinohydro Corporation.

Chinese construction firms have emerged as the dominant players in the hydroelectric sector in Africa, with the support of loans provided by China Exim Bank and other state-owned banks.

One of the biggest is the US$2 billion Kafue Gorge Lower Hydropower Station in southern Zambia, which is now at the half way stage in its construction schedule. Work began in 2015 on the 750 MW project, which is being funded by the Zambian government and lenders including the China Exim Bank. It is being constructed by Sinohydro Corporation, which expects to complete the project next year.

Work at the hydro-power station was on schedule and Chinese contractors' delivery times were competitive, Nkhuwa told Xinhua, expressing satisfaction with the quality of the work being done by the contractors.

Zambian minister of energy Mathew Nkhuwa recently told Xinhua that he was urging Chinese firms to bid on other power projects, including a planned interconnector between Zambia and Tanzania.

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