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Uganda receives USD 1.5 million monthly from power exports to Rwanda

“The line is trading between UETCL and REG giving about $1.5 million a month for the UETCL which is a power trade that has already been achieved as it was the intention of the two countries” 

Following the completion of interconnection and synchronization of the power grids of Rwanda and Uganda in June 2023 through the 220kV 172 km Shango – Mbarara Overhead Transmission Line (OHTL), the two nations commenced trading of power in October 2023.

The Nile Equatorial Lakes Subsidiary Action Program (NELSAP-CU) Regional Power Program Officer for Power and Trade Eng. Jacob Manyuon Deng revealed that as a result of this interconnection, Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) receives an average of USD 1.5 million per month from Rwanda.

He also revealed that in November 2023, Uganda exported 6.6 million kWh of power to Rwanda while in December it exported 9.4 million KWh. Therefore the registered Maximum Net export to Rwanda is 36.73 MW and the average registered export to Rwanda is 27.1 MW.

However, Rwanda and Uganda through their national utilities Rwanda Energy Group (REG) and UETCL then signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to guide this power exchange process.

“The line is trading between UETCL and REG giving about $1.5 million a month for the UETCL which is a power trade that has already been achieved as it was the intention of the two countries,” Manyuon Deng said.

The OHTL was first conceived under the Northern Corridor Integration Infrastructure Projects. NELSAP-CU took up the project and led the Interconnection of Power Grids of the Nile Equatorial Lakes Region (NEL) Countries, which aimed to interconnect the power grids of five countries of Burundi, D.R Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda through a 946km 220kV and 400kV transmission lines and 17 associate substations.

The 220 kV power transmission line between Uganda and Rwanda

NELSAP-CU conducted its Feasibility Studies and provided technical support during its construction and synchronization. To facilitate the completion and commissioning of this project, NELSAP-CU, the East Africa Power Pool (EAPP), and the two countries put into place working groups that consisted of planning, dispatching, protection, and telecommunications engineers from the countries.

The construction of this Interconnection between Rwanda and Uganda was funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), and JICA Government of The Netherlands in the form of loans and grants while its feasibility was funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) through a grant to NELSAP-CU.

Also, NELSAP-CU together with the EAPP with support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) supported modalities for preparation for the coordinated and smooth operation of the interconnected power grid system.

“The NELSAP-CU power interconnection projects aim to improve access to electricity in the NEL countries, lower electricity costs to consumers,  stabilize the power network, promote bi-directional (two-way) cross-border trade of energy and power,” said Eng. Dr. Isaac Alukwe, the NELSAP-CU Regional Coordinator

‘‘This will facilitate an increase in competition among energy-generating countries leading to lower prices for consumers and supporting clean energy generation projects“

The key areas that were addressed are protection schemes, outage requests, fault detection and clearing, synchronization of voltages and frequencies, dispatch and operational procedures, coordination of maintenance schedules, and regional power trade as per the EAPP Interconnection Code.

Access to electricity is a priority for the Nile Equatorial Lakes (NEL) countries’ economies because it is a prerequisite to poverty reduction and economic growth. The majority of NEL countries have very low access to electricity, with an average of about 11%.

Load shedding is common to all countries such that industrial and domestic consumers often experience erratic service. This is mostly due to demand surpassing supply and countries’ need to be economically self-sufficient such that there has been limited power trade in the region which could arrest the situation.

The benefits of power pools

NELSAP is focusing on sharing renewable energy resources through interconnected networks while working towards integrating the power pools in the region which are the North Africa power, Eastern Africa, Southern Africa, and Central Africa power pools.

The benefits of these power pools are the economic growth of all the pools for all the countries around the power pools. “The economic growth we are talking about is industrialization. You cannot have mining or agricultural industries without reliable power. And so the countries that have the surplus are sharing with those that do not have the surplus power. So, this is a great benefit that people are experiencing,” explained Eng. Jacob Manyuon Deng, the NELSAP-CU Power Program Officer.

Eng. Jacob Manyuon Deng while addressing journalists during the during the 9th Nile Journalists Media Training in Rwanda

He also highlighted social growth where some activities are social in nature and will be supported by the availability of reliable power. “We have the trade that is going to boost the economic growth in the whole region.”

The challenges faced

According to Eng. Jacob Manyuon Deng even with the achievements, there are challenges faced within the region during the implementation of these projects.

One is the national priority where a project is developed in the region but then the project must have national support. “So you may find a country has a different priority on what they want to implement. This puts up some delays on the regional project,” he states

“If the project is missing in the national plan, you will not be able to achieve it because if you initiate the project it must be captured in the national plan, if it is not then it cannot receive funding from the donors.”

He added saying insecurity issues are a challenge faced. “Africa has issues for example in Eastern DRC where we faced challenges and this impacts the schedule of the activities hence delaying the project.”

“Another paramount challenge is the political wheel where a country may have its political direction that we may not achieve the focus or may achieve the focus from the project itself.”

The potential of power trading

The NELSAP-CU Power Program Officer explained that what is being imported by a line like Shango-Mbarara, sometimes it is 30 megawatts where goes up to 40 megawatts. It is going up with the growth, so when the demand is growing, already the import is increasing in terms of power.

He also said that the 400 kV line can carry even up to 1000 megawatts from one country to another. So the capacity is huge but depends on the surplus being gotten from the different countries.

Considering that Rwanda is one of the countries getting a good deal from power exports as well as Uganda and Kenya.  This is where Kenya is benefiting from Ethiopia, Uganda is benefiting from Ethiopia and Kenya, and Kenya is also benefiting from Uganda. Now Rwanda is benefiting from Uganda while also benefiting from the DRC and Tanzania will benefit from Kenya and vice versa.

The one in the middle is the regional Rusumo Falls Hydroelectric Project where they are benefiting from each other because it is a shared energy resource at the border. Sudan is benefiting from Ethiopia, South Sudan is benefiting from Sudan and South Sudan is going to benefit from Ethiopia. “It is a very good network of integration and an interconnected network is going to enhance resource sharing in terms of energy potential.” he elaborates

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a dedicated and stand-alone goal on energy, SDG 7, calling to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. Energy lies at the heart of both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Achieving SDG7 will open a new world of opportunities for millions of people through new economic opportunities and jobs, empowered women, children, and youth, better education and health, more sustainable, equitable, and inclusive communities, and greater protections from, and resilience to climate change.

NELSAP-CU is working towards achieving the SDGs in the region because universal access to reliable and accessible energy is a potential that is going to contribute to the SDGs.

Eng. Jacob Manyuon Deng highlights that Uganda has a huge potential in terms of hydro and all other countries are moving towards that. These will eventually achieve the SDGs of universal accessibility to clean and reliable energy resources.

“Right now we have several multipurpose projects that are water in nature that have a component of power. This component cannot be diesel. We are encouraging the use of floating solar PV that will be used on top of the dams that are going to be constructed for the water supply in the area, the irrigation, and the development of the catchment. So we are working towards the achievement of the SDGs in the region and sharing the energy resources from abundant surplus to those who do not have,” he highlighted

NELSAP-CU is an investment wing that deals with water and power generation, power transmission, and interconnection for the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) while addressing regional integration through the sharing of energy resources where they identify and prepare projects for bankability.

 

 

 

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