Although Uganda is endowed with energy resources distributed throughout the country including hydropower, biomass, solar, geothermal, peat and fossil fuels, less than 15 per cent of the population has access to electricity. Consumption of electricity is among the lowest in the world at 215 kWh per capita per year, less than half that of the Sub-Saharan African average of 552 kWh. Biomass is the most important source of energy for most of the population, accounting for 90 per cent.
Uganda has a total installed capacity of 957.7 MW, including 743 MW for hydropower. The main and base electricity supply is generated from the Nile River, primarily from the 255 MW Bujagali, the 200 MW Kiira and the 180 MW Nalubaale plants. In total, hydropower accounts for 78 per cent of installed capacity, whereas thermal, cogeneration and solar account for 14, 10 and 1 per cent respectively. The total energy power potential is estimated to be 5,300 MW, including an estimated 2,200 MW of hydropower, which can potentially provide the country with sufficient capacity to meet future growth in energy demand.
Since the Bujagali hydropower station was completed by mid-2012, the generation capacity – accounting for 34 per cent of the country’s electricity – has been sufficient to avoid load shedding. In order to make electricity in Uganda more affordable, the government has a grant with a five-year corporate income tax break to Bujagali Energy Ltd to reduce electricity prices. Moreover, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is helping refinance Bujagali to lower the project’s tariff under the power purchase agreement with Uganda Electricity Transmission Company.
Extending electricity access nationwide is a primary policy objective for Uganda. This includes increasing access to 30 per cent in 2020 and 80 per cent in 2040 (a 6 per cent annual increase), with off-grid electricity playing only a minor role. While this is expected to be mainly low-carbon due to large hydropower resources, there is potential to achieve 100 per cent access cost-effectively by 2040 with a greater emphasis on small-scale off-grid renewable solutions.
To fast-track the development of on-grid small renewable energy projects, Uganda took an early lead in East Africa in implementing the feed-in-tariff (FIT) system, adopting the Global Energy Transfer Feed-in-Tariff (GET-FiT) Program launched in 2013. The total planned installed capacity from the GET-FiT projects currently under construction is 86 MW. Moreover, 6.5 MW Muvumbe and 5 MW Siti I became operational in March and May 2017 respectively.
The government’s grid development plan set a target to increase hydropower generation mix from 78 per cent to 90 per cent by 2030. The government has continued to expand the power transmission network to expand national electrification coverage as envisioned in the national development plan. During 2017 the government completed construction of 167 km of transmission lines, and a total of 948 km of transmission lines are to be finished by the end of 2018.
Uganda is building several new large hydropower facilities, such as the 600 MW Karuma and the 183 MW Isimba Falls plants, and has proposed the 600 MW Ayago plant. The 600 MW Karuma plant construction is 70 per cent complete with construction completion targeted during the financial year 2018/2019. Construction of the 183 MW Isimba project stands at 66 per cent and the project is expected to be commissioned by August 2018.
Other hydropower projects currently under development are the 83 MW Achwa project, the 44.7 MW Muzizi project and the 5.4 MW Nyagak project. On top of that, the GET-FiT portfolio is supporting 17 renewable power generation projects to generate about 156.5 MW, where a total of 69.2 MW is expected by the end of 2018 from nine hydropower projects.
This country profile is featured in the 2018 Hydropower Status Report. Download the full report here.
This profile was last updated in June 2018.