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How Growth of Electricity Sub Sector Facilitated Uganda’s Industrial Development

In the last 20 years, Uganda’s electricity sector has significantly grown, largely due to the targets for power transmission and distribution companies by the regulator, the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA).

Twenty years ago, the Government embarked on a reform of the Electricity Supply Industry (ESI) resulting into the implementation of several structural changes within the industry.

The reforms were aimed at providing adequate, reliable and least cost power supply to meet the country’s demand, promote efficient operation of the power sub sector and scale up rural and peri urban access to electricity to maximize the impact on poverty reduction.

Following the break-up of Uganda Electricity Board (UEB) which was split into 3 agencies, namely; Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL), Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) and Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited (UEDCL), the UETCL remained with 1,142 kilometers of transmission lines and 14 sub stations which have since expanded to 2,889 kilometers and 25 sub stations.

ChimpReports has had an interview with Mr Godfrey Semakula, the Deputy Director of industrial parks at Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) to ascertain the contribution of electricity transmission growth on industrialization.

Semakula told ChimpReports that nearly all Industrial parks have had sub stations constructed by UETCL to feed them with power which is not shared with households.

“The Industries need a lot of power and we try to ensure that at least sub stations are put in some of those areas where industrial parks are going to be set up. For example, our flagship industrial park is Kampala industrial and Business Park which is in Namanve,” Semakula told ChimpReports.

“It is a 2,200 acre facility and a sub station is now being finalized. But when we started, there was no sub station. There was nearby power which was 33KV power, pulled up to the park which is not enough. But now, a sub station is being constructed and that will be enough to supply power for the Industries which are going to be there,” he added.

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He noted that a sub station is being constructed for the 70 acre Luzira industrial park.

“In Mbale, they (UETCL) are also trying to build a sub station there because we have a park there which is 619 acres.”

Other areas such as 50 acre Bweyogerere industrial park, Semakula said, there is enough power around and, or can pull from the Luzira sub station.

For other industrial parks such as the 186 acre park in Jinja, 216 acre industrial park in Soroti, he said power has already been extended up to the sites.

We asked Semakula whether that power is reliable given the fact that initially, power in the factories would be insufficient in that nearby households would even have outages whenever a factory would start operating.

“The issue of not having enough power will soon be history. The factories which are operational now, are able to operate with power which is there. In Luzira, we have no problem. In Mbale, the power which is there is enough because there are few factories right now. But since they are going to be more, that is why they are putting a sub station,” he answered.

Semakula expressed optimism that the industrial parks, through employment creation and value addition, will make Uganda achieve its 2040 vision of turning the country into a prosperous nation.

“With these industrial parks which are coming into place and their location across the country in specific areas was for a purpose. You look at what is being produced there. So, once you get investors who are going to do value addition, that will be a plus to the country,” Semakula said.

“Even farmers who are growing these products will be able to have market for their produce. Jobs are going to be created. Our aim is to have at least about 1 million direct jobs and that will translate into more indirect jobs. If I am, for example, employed in an industrial park, I create other jobs indirectly,” he added.

He further pointed out that Uganda’s foreign exchange earnings will shoot up due to the increase in exportation of the manufactured products.

Semakula also noted that the set up of Industrial parks in various parts of the country will curb the massive movement of people to Kampala in search for employment.

 

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