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Refinancing of Ugandan major power dam to cut electricity costs

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Refinancing of Uganda’s major hydro power plant has got industrialists in the country optimistic that the power tariff rate, which has been driving the costs of production high, will fall.

A consortium of development finance institutions and commercial lenders on Tuesday announced the completion of the refinancing of more than 400 million U.S. dollar in loans to Bujagali Energy Limited (BEL).

The International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, the African Development Bank, the Netherlands Development Finance Company and others say that the refinancing package will extend the tenure of the loan repayment period.

The extension of the loan tenure will reduce BEL’s annual debt servicing payments and make it possible to cut the cost of electricity produced by the plant over the next five years.

The 900 million U.S. dollar Bujagali plant is one of the largest power generation plants in Uganda, contributing 45 percent of the country’s annual electricity generation. Its commissioning in 2012 reduced the country’s reliance on costlier thermal power generation.

Simon D’ujanga, minister of state for energy, said in a recent statement the refinancing has already delivered a tariff reduction for extra-large industrial manufacturers, from 10.1 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour to 8.3 cents.

  Bujagali Power Station Uganda | Coastweek

The Bujagali Power Station is a hydroelectric power station across the Victoria Nile that harnesses the energy of its namesake – the Bujagali Falls – in Uganda. The capacity of the power station is 250 megawatts (340,000 hp). PHOTO - WORLD BANK
Gideon Badagawa, executive director of Private Sector Foundation, said the refinancing will ease pressure on the private sector, since the high tariff has been driving the cost of production high, making Ugandan products more expensive.

"All the other East African Community partner states have lower power tariffs compared to Uganda," Badagawa said.

He said the move will also help ease pressure that comes with exchange rate hikes, because the more it rises, the more BEL spends to finance its debt.

"That burden is normally passed to the final consumer," he said.

Daniel Birungi, executive director of Uganda Manufacturers’ Association, is optimistic that the tariff will drop further to 5 cents per kilowatt hour for manufactures, as was promised earlier by the country’s president, Yoweri Museveni.

"At the end of the day, what we need is an affordable tariff and uninterrupted supply of power so we can produce competitively," Birungi said.

Bujagali’s commissioning in 2012 allowed the government to retire more than 100 megawatts of diesel power plants and made it possible to nearly eliminate government subsidies to the electricity sector.

Uganda’s current installed capacity is estimated at 930MW, according to government figures.

It is estimated that 1,131MW will be required to meet the national electricity demand by 2020.

More than 90 percent of Uganda’s electricity is now generated from renewable sources.


Uganda and India sign four agreements to boost ties

ENTEBBE Uganda (Xinhua) -- India and Uganda on Tuesday signed four bilateral agreements to boost ties.

The signing of the agreements was witnessed by visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at State House Entebbe, 40 km south of the Ugandan capital Kampala.

They signed memorandums of understanding in defense, waiver of visas requirement for diplomats, cultural cooperation and exchange, and establishment of a laboratory for infrastructure development.

After the signing, Museveni said India has provided Uganda a line of credit worth 200 million U.S. dollars.

Museveni said the money can be used to build power transmission lines, purchase agro processing machines, solar powered irrigation machines among others.

Premier Modi said India will continue to cooperate with Uganda in various areas in technology and infrastructure development.

Modi, who arrived here from Rwanda, is on a two-day state visit where he will address the Ugandan Parliament and open the India-Uganda Business Forum.

He will also address the Indian community in the country before departing for South Africa where he will attend the 10th BRICS summit in Johannesburg.

India is one of Uganda’s main trading partners according to government figures.

According to Bank of Uganda July 2018 data, India’s exports to Uganda for 2017 were worth 599.04 million U.S. dollars, up from 293.87 million in 2007.

Uganda’s exports to India increased from 3.21 million dollars in 2007 to 43.69 million dollars in 2017.

India exports to Uganda pharmaceutical products, vehicles, plastic, and organic chemicals among others while Uganda exports to India vegetables, coffee, tea, cotton among others.

Uganda police deploys heavily ahead of ruling on presidential age limit

KAMPALA Uganda (Xinhua) -- Police in Uganda has heavily deployed in the capital Kampala and other major towns in the country ahead of Thursday’s Court ruling on a petition seeking the annulment of parliament’s decision to scrap the presidential age limit.

Patrick Onyango, Uganda’s deputy police spokesperson in a statement on Wednesday said the force together with other agencies have heightened security as a panel of five judges of the constitutional court at set to deliver their ruling in the eastern region town of Mbale.

"We have deployed strategically for tomorrow’s court ruling.

"Not only in Kampala but other major towns as well.

"But heavy deployment will be in Kampala and Mbale.

"We expect anything and we had to prepare for it," said Onyango.

The deployment comes as activists and opposition groups opposed to the constitutional amendment law to hold rallies on Thursday after the judges deliver their ruling.

Opposition legislators and their lawyers in January petitioned the constitutional court to declare null and void the constitutional amendment bill to remove a cap that barred any Ugandan citizen below the age of 35 or older than 75 years to hold office of the president.

Incumbent President Yoweri Museveni on Dec. 27 signed into law the constitutional amendment bill.

Opposition and campaigners opposed to the law argue that the move was intended to allow Museveni, now 73, to run in the 2021 elections when he will be over 75 years of age.


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