KAMPALA, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Uganda’s electricity generation capacity is set to jump by 55.5% in December when a Chinese-financed hydropower plant and other, smaller projects are commissioned, the east African country’s energy minister said.
In recent years, Uganda has been wooing private-sector energy investors and taking loans from China and other sources to help ramp up its power production to meet fast-rising demand.
Uganda’s installed electricity generation capacity in December will be up 55.5% from June at 1,825 megawatts (MW), Energy Minister Irene Muloni said in a statement.
The jump will largely come from 600 MW due to be added to the grid when the Karuma hydropower plant, being built by China’s Sinohydro Corp and financed with a loan from China’s Exim bank, is commissioned in December.
“Commissioning the Karuma Hydropower Project ... shall be another milestone to the energy generation capacity for industrialization and economic development,” she said.
The $1.7 billion Karuma plant is being constructed on the River Nile, where another project also financed and built by China, the Isimba hydropower plant, was commissioned last year.
Muloni said in addition to Karuma, five small hydropower projects with a combined capacity of 51 MW will be completed and connected to the grid by December.
Uganda’s power grid reaches just 23% of the country’s 40 million people, according to power distributor UMEME Ltd , which says it plans to spend about $1.2 billion in the next seven years to revamp and expand the grid.
Ugandan energy demand is expected to climb sharply in coming years as the country’s emerging petroleum industry drives up economic growth. (Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Dale Hudson)