165 billion shilling Uganda power investment
Tuesday, 9th September, 2008
THE Kampala City Council (KCC) authorities are holding back a $100m (about sh165b) investment for 33 mega watts (MW) of electricity from garbage. The power would be supplied onto the national grid.
The plant on a 100-acre piece of land at Lubya, a city suburb, is also expected to make diesel and natural cooking gas.
It is owned by the US-based Taylor Biomass Energy LLC and Sesam Energetics-1 Ltd, its local partner.
It was licensed by the Government almost two years ago. However, KCC insists that the project must be subjected to competitive bidding.
In a memo seen by The New Vision, KCC claimed that other future prospective investors in garbage like for manure, may be held at bay by the project’s undertaking.
“We want Sesam Energetics to allow us (KCC) time to make the garbage investments be subjected to a competitive bidding process,” the memo said.
Sesam is asking for a 15-year renewable contract.
Dr. Noah Maalanti, the Sesam chief executive director, disclosed that the environmentally-friendly plant would help Kampala get rid of the over 1,400 metric tonnes of garbage generated daily.
“This is a clean technology. We are looking at creating about 14,000 new jobs directly and indirectly when we start operations,” he explained.
“The KCC bureaucracy is frustrating. KCC is now the only problem for this massive investment to clean the city and avail renewable energy. They are taking long to give us the first-right-of-refusal on the garbage. I think they are playing politics,” Maalanti said. He said the right entails getting commitment that the company would be able to get garbage, before any other organisation within the first 15 years or that any other company uses the garbage after their raw material demand is met.
“KCC spends $1m to maintain the Kiteezi land fill annually. Their trucks are overstretched and cannot collect all the garbage. The local water sources are polluted. We are giving them an alternative and they cannot give us the first right of refusal,” Julius Lukwago, the executive director for critical business links, wondered.
“We suspect some people want to hijack this garbage. But look at the 14,000 metric tonnes of garbage generated in the city daily.
“We only need 710 metric tonnes.
“Are we asking for too much or KCC’s priorities are misplaced?” Lukwago asked. “We are talking about workers, professionals, and all those whose work directly depends on power availability,” he added.
He said the company had the capacity to produce up to 70MW of energy to feed the national power grid, but had scaled it down due to KCC’s inconsistencies.
The Uganda Investment Authority, the local government ministry, the National Environmental Authority, the Buganda Kingdom land board and the Electricity Regulatory Authority, have all given the company a go-ahead.
“But some agreements we have to make can’t go on unless we get this KCC commitment.
“The Government must think ahead of the people. We have a clean technology investment and it is bogged down.
“This guarantee for source of raw materials is a must-have,” Lukwago insisted.
By John Kasozi and Kikonyogo Ngatya - New vision