A new hydro-electric plant, to be located at the Karuma Falls of the Nile, just before the river enters Murchisons Falls National Park, is according to sources in the ministry of energy set for construction start by July of this year. As a tunnel version is being used in this hydro-electric plant, the environmental and social impact is considered much lower compared to a power plant using a dam, as recently described for the Bujagali venture, leaving some of the spectacular rapids visible for tourists.
The project, on the drawing board for many years through a Norwegian company, Norpak, kept lingering along, while Uganda’s electricity crisis worsened, and a former minister of energy in particular continues to be blamed for her intransigence and inaction in the face of a growing disparity between electricity consumption and production at the time. What her reasons were back then to delay giving Norpak the green light will probably remain a mystery, while in turn blaming all and sundry for the errors of judgement made then.
Norpak eventually abandoned the project, and the government then re-designed the proposed power plant to increase electricity output from the initially envisaged 200–250 MW to a new target of 750 MW.
When finally on line in a few years time, the two new hydro-electric power plants are hoped to produce some 1,000 MWs of electricity, permitting the supply to be ahead of demand for the first time in over two decades and will allow government to roll out affordable (i.e., subsidized) electricity usage to rural areas of the country, where presently the constant use of charcoal and firewood causes environmental degradation.