Ssekandi and Zhang Gaiping KIRYANDONGO, Uganda (Xinhua) --
Deep in the tunnels dug below River Nile in northern Uganda,
Chinese engineers together with their Ugandan counterparts
assemble turbines that will generate electricity at the
country’s largest hydro power plant.
In other parts of the tunnels, local
workers under close supervision of Chinese technicians weld
metals as concrete trucks come in and out of the tunnels, and
outside the tunnels, it is equally busy as workers build several
Zheng Zhuqiang, Chinese ambassador to
Uganda said on Thursday that thousands of youths have gained
skills as a result of the construction of the Karuma hydro power
plant. Construction started in 2013.
“Over 6,000 Ugandans have been
employed by the project. Local employees account for 13 percent
of managers, 50 percent of technical workers and 87 percent
general workers,” Zheng said during an inspection tour to the
construction site by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
By the end of 2017, more than 150
million U.S. dollars was paid for local procurement of diesel,
cement, steel, wood and vehicles, according to Zheng.
The ambassador said when completed,
the plant will generate four billion kilowatt hours annually and
provide more than 200 million dollars in revenue to the
government, which is close to 1 percent of the gross domestic
Denis Rubangakene, a worker at the
construction site, told Xinhua that working under close
supervision from his Chinese instructor, he has now gained
skills in metal welding.
He said he was employed at the site
without any academic qualification.
“I have come to realize that these
people do not bother much about certificate and the level of
education as long as you can manage to do the work they give
you,” Rubangakene said.
He said he has now gained experience
and can start his own metal welding workshop when the
construction project ends.
“For me I am very sure, when I reach
Gulu I will open my workshop. The project has given me something
to do in the future,” he added.
Andrew Kamagara, a local engineer at
the site said the construction project has exposed him to other
fields that he never thought of joining.
He said although originally he was a
water engineer, the Chinese have exposed him to structural
engineering, a skill he now enjoys.
“At school we mostly learnt about
theory but when we came here, more theory was added but with the
practical bit,” Kamagara said. “I will be going away with a lot
of structural knowledge. I have gained that information and it
increased my confidence in structural design.”
Meanwhile, villages neighboring the
construction site have started developing, according to Severino
Opio, local council leader of Karuma village.
He said the locals employed at the
site are now buying land and constructing more permanent houses.
He said safe water points have been
extended closer to the villages by Sinohydro, the project
“I used to collect water from very far
and that meant I either had to leave my child in the house or
carry him with me to fetch the water. But this borehole was
built in the community so it helps us reduce the time spent
collecting water,” Lydia Buteme, a resident of Karuma village
At the national level, the 600MW power
plant will be a game changer in the provision of adequate
electricity to power the country’s economic development.
Economic experts argue that lack of
adequate and cheap electricity was pushing up the cost of
production in the country and therefore making its products
uncompetitive in the east Africa region where power is cheaper
in other nations.
Irene Muloni, minister of energy and
mineral development, said construction of the power plant will
be completed by the end of next year.
“Construction of the power plant is at
80 percent complete and the transmission part is at 42 percent
complete,” Muloni said, noting that the first two units of the
plant each generating 100MW will be completed by the end of this
Museveni thanked China for financing
the construction of the power plant, noting that it will be
important in providing adequate electricity to fast track the
economic development of the country.
“I want to thank the Chinese
government because we made a contribution from the government of
Uganda money, but the bigger money came from a soft loan from
China,” Museveni said.
Uganda contributed 15 percent as
counterpart funding while China Export and Import Bank is
providing financing of up to 85 percent. The total cost is 1.4
billion dollars for the generation plant component of the power
Uganda’s power generation and
installed capacity is estimated at 930 MW, according to
It is estimated that 1,131 MW will be
required to meet the national electricity demand by 2020.
When Karuma and the 183 MW Isimba
Hydro Power Plant is complete, the 2020 demand would be
surpassed. Isimba Power Plant is also financed and constructed