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Sh50b needed for Uganda rural power

Monday, 4th April, 2011

The Uganda Rural Electrification Agency (REA) is seeking a $21m loan (about sh51b) from the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa and the Saudi Fund for Development to finance rural electrification projects.

Once approved, the Arab Bank will contribute $10m and the Saudi Fund $10m. The Government is expected to top-up over $3m.

The funds are intended to provide electricity to eight rural districts in northern, central, western and eastern regions.

The lines to benefit from the scheme include Kapchorwa-Bukwo-Swam, Mayuge-Bwondha Landing Site, Kasambira-Bugulumbya-Bukuutu, Mityana-Lusalira and Lake Victoria Free Trade Zone.

Others include Apac-Chegere-Alemi, Hoima-Nalweyo and Kitgmu-Namokora and Padibe.

Godfrey Turyahikayo, the agency’s executive director, told the parliamentary committees on national economy and natural resources at the Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala on Friday that 5,385 people would be connected to the main grid once the project is complete.

In the beneficiary districts, the agency will construct 658kms of 33kv medium voltage lines using wooden poles and 159 units of distribution transformers and 274km of low voltage lines including services connections in 112 load centres.

Turyahikayo explained that the selection process of the beneficiary districts was based on the growth centres, which do not have access to electricity and connectivity to the existing power grids.

“We also examined the issue of clientele willing to use electricity in the areas and availability of clients for future expansions,” said Turyahikayo.

The chairperson of the natural resources committee, Faridah Najuma, assured the agency that the committee would not frustrate their efforts because there was need to extend power to rural areas.

“We shall support the loan agreement once it is presented on the floor of Parliament. We have just concluded elections, but my colleagues will testify that the electorate was on our necks over the issue of rural electrification,” said Najuma.

The MP for Buliisa, Stephen Mukitale, appreciated what rural electrification had achieved, but noted that a lot needs to be done to cover more rural areas.
Kawempe North MP Latiff Ssebagala, however, noted that the Government should give priority to reducing power tariffs instead of extending power to rural areas.

“We (urban dwellers) are finding it difficult to pay for the expensive electricity. How will our brothers in the rural areas meet those costs? he asked.
Turyahikayo pointed out that once the loan is approved, it would be a major step towards fulfilling the overall electrification plan currently estimated to cover only 6% of the country.

He said in a short time, they had managed to extend power to district headquarters, tea and fish factories, landing sites, mines and several agro- and-dairy processing plants.

By Ronald Kalyango: The New Vision Newspaper

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