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Can Museveni’s promises be trusted?

By Andrew M. Mwenda

  1. Address to the students at Makerere University, June 8th 1991

‘Coming to your problems, I would like to touch on your problem of electricity load shading ‘ a situation in which you have electricity for some hours after which it is taken to another place. These are the cumulative effects of what we have been going through. Our small power station at Jinja was capable of generating 150 megawatts when it was built in 1954 and when the population of Uganda was four and a half million people. By the time we came to government in 1986, its capacity had declined to 120 megawatts and the population of Uganda is now 17 million.

‘Countries like Tanzania which were behind us in electricity generation, but did not undergo the same problems as we did were by 1986 producing 370 megawatts. In other words, Uganda was producing less than one third of Tanzania’s total power output. We have however struggled to repair and upgrade our power station to 180 megawatts. At the same time we are struggling to build a second power station on the eastern side of the River Nile. This will produce about 200 megawatts. Five years from now (1996), we shall have arrived at Tanzania’s 1986 power position.’

  1. Tackling the Tasks Ahead, Election Manifesto 1996                             

We are in the process of expanding hydropower generation from the 60 megawatts which we inherited in 1986 to 400 megawatts within the next two years. We are already generating 162 MW.

  1. Consolidating Achievements of the Movement, Election Manifesto 2001

When the Movement government assumed power in 1986, Owen Falls power station was in a state of total disrepair. Of the ten generating units, with a capacity to generate 150 MW, only 4 units were working, producing 60 MW. Through rehabilitation and upgrading, the capacity of the power station has been increased from its original capacity of 150MW to 180MW.

In order to address the growing demand for electricity, the government has constructed a new 200-MW power plant, Kiira Power Station. Already two generating units of the extension have been commissioned, adding 80MW to the power production. This considerably reduced load-shedding. Funds to install and commission the remaining three units have already been secured. The project will be fully operational in 2002.

Given the mandate, we intend to consolidate our gains that have enabled us to rise generation of hydropower from a mere 60MW in 1989 to 260MW in 2000. The generation capacity will further be increased to 380MW  in 2002 and 630MW in 2004 when the Bujagali Hydropower Project will be complete and fully commissioned. Increased production of cheap hydro- power will not only make Uganda a power exporter but will also increase our country’s investment opportunities and competitiveness within the region.

Members of the National Economy Committee of the 6th Parliament:

Isaac Musumba, Chairman (NRM)

Aston Kajara (NRM)

Seth Wambede (NRM)

Mike Mukula (NRM)

Masiko Kabakumba (NRM)

Mukasa Kintu (no party)

Sam Rwakoojo (NRM)

John Eresu (NRM)

Atwooki Kasirivu (NRM)

Benedict Mutyaba (NRM)

Phinehas Katirima (UPDF ‘ NRM)

Ndaula Kaweesa (NRM)

Aleluya Ikote (no party)

Mugisha Muntu (FDC)

  1. Prosperity for All NRM manifesto 2006

The NRM recognises the power sector as being practical to its mission of transforming Uganda from a peasant society into a modern, industrial and prosperous society. Power is an engine for growth in many ways such as transforming raw materials into final products, operating machinery for manufacturing and agro-processing, lighting, running offices and other mechanised equipment, communication technology, refrigeration and many others.

As all Ugandans have noted, there is a new wave of electricity shortages, commonly known load-shedding. The government had overcome this load-shedding when it repaired the old Jinja plant that was only producing 60MW in 1986 back to its original capacity of 150MW and upgraded it to 180 MW. Government then built a new one on the east bank of the Nile that can produce 200MW if the water in the river is enough.

The plan then was to build three new dams: Bujagali 250MW, Kalangala 450MW and Karuma 150 MW. Investors for all the three had been identified: AES-Bujagali, Norpark-Karuma and the Egyptians for Kalangala.

The plans, however, were opposed by two players: the Sixth Parliament of Uganda influenced by elements that later emerged as Parliamentary Advocacy Forum (PAFO) and, then FDC and by the so-called ‘donors.’ The ‘donors’ were using the false arguments about the size of demand. They were saying if Uganda built two or three new dams at ago, she would face a new danger of too much electricity. This was a false position and the government said so. The MPs were using the constitution to meddle, negatively, in the work of the executive. Indeed many hours were spent meeting parliament to no avail. This delayed the AES agreement for seven years. Eventually, AES developed its own problems.

However if it had not been for the obstruction of parliament, by the time AES developed problems, the dam would have been largely constructed. Even with the collapse of the AES arrangement, the government of Uganda would have been able to quickly finish the dam. That would have given the country an extra 250MW by now. The current deficit is between 20-30MW (during the day) and 120-130MW (during peak time). This deficit is however owed to the growth in population and growth in small scale industries that have exerted demand on the current electricity generation. This deficit, therefore, obscures the actual growth in electricity generation.

Government has re-negotiated with funding agencies over the Bujagali project and construction work is expected to begin in July 2006.’

Yet 23 years since Museveni took over government, total production at pick hours ‘ including both hydro and thermal electricity ‘ is 290 megawatts.

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